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Proman welcomes UK push for absolute zero shipping emissions by 2050

Proman has welcomed the UK Government’s commitment to push for a world-leading absolute zero target for international shipping emissions by 2050, as announced by Transport Secretary Grant Shapps on 13th September 2021.

This target, which would need to be agreed through the International Maritime Organization (IMO), recognises that reducing shipping emissions is not just about cutting carbon dioxide (CO2).

Of the ~3% of global greenhouse gas emissions generated by the sector, a significant proportion of this estimated 1 billion tonnes[1] each year comes in the form of sulphur oxides (SOx), nitrous oxides (NOx) and particulate matter, all of which have a proven impact on air quality and public health.[2]

The global shipping sector and regulators must take decisions now regarding the fuels and technology required to meet existing IMO 2030 and 2050 targets, with significant and growing momentum around methanol.

Some of the world’s largest shipping companies have this year backed methanol as the leading alternative marine fuel for the future, including Maersk’s recent order of eight new methanol-fueled vessels and the significant investments by leading engine manufacturers MAN and Wartsila in methanol fleets and technology.

As a marine fuel, methanol’s major advantage is that it can drastically – and in some cases immediately – reduce all shipping emissions. It therefore has a major role to play in meeting the UK Government’s 2050 absolute zero emissions target.

With its clean-burning qualities, ship owners switching to methanol fuel can immediately eliminate SOx and particulate matter and cut NOx emissions by over 60%. Methanol produced from natural gas offers an initial 10-15% CO2 saving, rising to over 90% when using renewable methanol. Methanol is also safe to handle, globally available and benefits from proven engine technology.

Speaking at this year’s Argus Methanol Forum, David Cassidy, Chief Executive of Proman said:

“While only smaller amounts of renewable methanol are currently produced, as demand grows the level of renewable methanol production can be rapidly ramped up. As more plants get built and more capital is committed to renewable methanol production, the underlying technologies and equipment will become more cost effective and the price of renewable methanol will become more competitive. The whole process can be a massive stimulus for our global economy, creating new future-proof jobs while driving down emissions and reducing environmental harm. That surely, is a win-win situation.”

Welcoming the UK Government’s commitment to push for absolute zero shipping emissions by 2050, David Cassidy called for further regulatory and government actions to create a level playing field for cleaner alternative fuels:

“The global energy transition has opened the door for alternatives to conventional fuels. There is no single solution or silver bullet, and we need to keep the door open for an open fuel standard for every solution to work in concert. But investing in methanol now means a smoother and faster transition to a lower carbon future.”

“As an industry, we need legislative action to help level the playing field and foster methanol’s adoption. Pricing challenges will need to be confronted, and carbon taxes on fossil-based fuels should be part of the solution. Calculating emissions on a well-to-wake basis are critical to allowing like-for-like comparisons between future fuels, rather than pushing emissions further upstream. We need the development of international certificates to allow for a true “book and claim” system, because that will be crucial to the acceptance of methanol as a fuel more broadly. And we absolutely need to standardise how we all report ESG metrics.”

[1] IMO GHG Study 2020 – Full report and annexes.pdf

[2] According to the UK Department of Transport’s Clean Maritime Plan, published July 2019, domestic shipping  accounted for 11% of the UK’s total NOx emissions, 2% of the primary PM2.5 emissions, and 7% of SO2 emissions.