Can The Shipping Industry Reduce Their Carbon Footprint?

Can The Shipping Industry Reduce Their Carbon Footprint?

As the world grows more aware of the implications of burning fossil fuel there’s an ever increasing pressure on the shipping industry to replace their current fuel with a Carbon Zero source to reduce their carbon footprint. Until then, Liquefied natural gas ”LNG” is now the most common propulsion option for container shipping companies, with LNG powered dual fuel ships comprising 80% of the total order book after a massive increase in orders over the past year. 

The number of LNG fueled ships currently on order has risen to 138 vessels with a capacity of 1.67 million TEU, up from 50 ships of 720,000 TEU capacity a year ago, according to maritime consultancy Alphaliner. Most of those vessels will enter the market in 2023 and 2024. 

Rising in proportion with the increasing demand for the LNG-propelled ships is opposition from environmental groups that say switching to LNG will increase their carbon footprint of vessels and lock in fossil fuel dependence, making the transition to zero-carbon energy even more difficult. “It is simply reckless and irresponsible to promote highly polluting LNG during a climate crisis, said Kendra Ulrich, shipping campaigns director and lead of the “Ship It Zero” campaign at environmental advocacy organization Stand Earth. 

The maritime industry is under enormous pressure to reduce its carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, and with no viable alternatives yet to fossil fuels available at the scale required, several major carriers are placing their bets on LNG as a transitional fuel until a zero carbon option is developed. 

Switching to LNG allows carriers to reduce harmful emissions in line with toughening regulatory requirements. Another carrier that has made a massive leap into LNG fuel is Mediterranean Shipping Company. The carrier has the largest amount of LNG powered capacity on order at just short of 420,000 TEU, Alphaliner noted. Hapag-Lloyd has the largest LNG powered vessels on order, with 12 ships of 23,660 TEU each to be delivered in 2023 and 2024. 

The urgency of finding a zero carbon fuel for shipping, which produces almost 3 % of global emissions currently, and is growing every year is paramount.