An association, made up of technology companies and others that believe shipping can achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions, was launched nearly two years ago is heading to Glasgow to UNFCCC’s COP 26 to show the world what it believes can be done.
The Zero Emissions Ship Technology Association believes wind propulsion, green hydrogen, batteries and fuel cells should shape shipping’s future more than e-fuels. biofuels and even ammonia, options that are gaining a lot of interest in the maritime industry, especially deep sea shipping.
Madadh MacLaine. ZESTAs secretary-general talked to Craig Eason (Aronnax host and Fathom World editor) about its intentions in Glasgow and how it wants to make a difference.
Craig Eason 00:00
Hello and welcome to another episode of The Aronnax podcast, the podcast hosted by me Craig Eason, anf focused on everything to do with the transformation, the transition, of the ocean and shipping industries. And that means looking at a lot of key decisions that are having to be made in the coming decade, one of which deals exclusively with the decarbonisation of the shipping industry. We’ve spoken in earlier episodes about the efforts being made at the IMO, the International Maritime Organization, as well as other proposals going into the IMO and elsewhere to do with funding and to do with projects. Now, in Glasgow, towards the end of this year, we have got the latest meeting of the UNFCCC (the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change), and there ZESTA, that’s the Zero Emission Ship Technology Association is going to hold what it describes as a pivotal and disruptive events to try and reshape the agenda and get more action, I would say, going relating to the decarbonisation of the industry with me is Secretary General obsesses Madadh McLean. Madadh tell me a little bit more about this event in Glasgow, first off, because why you take it to Glasgow, and the UNFCCC. Why not put it at the IMO, or somewhere like that, where you’re going to get more shipping people?
Madadh MacLaine 01:23
Right? Okay, why why Glasgow COP 26? COP 26 is going to be an extremely important COP for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that we did not have a COP last year. We’ve also got IPCC reports coming out telling us that we’re further down the road than we expected to be at this point in time pulling, pulling things like ‘trigger points’ and ‘feedback loops’ into the conversation which hadn’t previously been there before. ….We need to change the conversation a bit around this that we’ve been talking about decarbonisation and we really need to start looking at the elimination of greenhouse gas and climate impacts and start looking at it even further afield to look at what trigger effects could be caused by some of the actions that we’re taking in shipping. So not just to look at, you know, from Well to or from Well, yes, looking beyond well to wake, I’m looking at things like what happens if there’s a spill, etc.
Craig Eason 02:35
So it’s going to be what you hope to be sort of making it a pivotal event. So what you’re going to do in Glasgow, it’s not going to be a conference where you got people just talking is it you’re trying to be a little bit more interactive and engaging.
Madadh MacLaine 02:49
It’s not a commercial, this is not a commercial event. This is a workshop. And so by way to explain the way the agenda is going to work is we will have, we will have presentations. So presentation, followed by a panel discussion of the presenter panel discussion, followed by an audience Q&A, which will lead to a brainstorming session. So for example, we have technology presenters presenting on their particular technology, the audience will be in a position to let us know why they don’t think that will work for them, so we can begin to discuss around that. And they will the we will have all of the solutions required for this change in the room. So not only the technology providers, but also the enablers- so policy, insurance, finance, people in the energy supply chains. So that so that when we’re looking at the solutions, we’re not just looking at a single aspect of the solution, but we’re looking for a holistic solution.
Craig Eason 03:58
So what’s stopping your objective? The objective of investors is to have vessels in the water that are zero emissions, absolute zero emissions, so that means that there’s there’s no fuel that’s created ashore that creates emissions and it’s really is an idea or concept of having really clean fuel supply chains as well as having a clean ship so there’s no emissions coming out of the funnel, even if you can offset them elsewhere. What’s stopping this from happening? Why aren’t we able to go to your final objective today?
Madadh MacLaine 04:43
This is this is the whole point of the workshop Craig. It is not one thing we can’t put our we can’t point you know, a lot of people want to point at policies. It’s everything and this is why we need the solutions together with the enablers, together with the biggest challenges and this is, for example, we will have a representative from the Solomon Islands in the room talking about the challenges for the small island developing states and people who are, you know, dealing with low value cargo that’s a long distance from market. So some of the things that are really holding up the decisions in the IMO. How can we solve these problems? We need the greater global shipping community to come around and support ship owners on the IMO, to enable them to make these hard choices and these hard decisions and to go down these hard lines. You know, so you know. It’s along the lines of the Poseidon principles, if you’ve got insurer saying, right, we’re only going to insure vessels that have a certain certain rating. Suddenly that begins to level the playing field in that regard and enables shipowners to move a bit further. Let me swing back around on on the IMO again. The IMO cannot put regulations in place, when there’s a significant percentage of the shipowning community that aren’t able to meet those regulations. So thinking it’s not you know, people with the biggest challenges, small island developing states, the people who are long distance from market for whom the transport costs is considerable, least developed countries, you know, we’ve got to we’ve got to find a solution that actually is going to function for all stakeholders for those changes to occur.
Craig Eason 06:35
Does it alarm you then when we’re talking about decarbonisation of the shipping industry that there are differing definitions of what decarbonisation means? We’re looking at fuels such as methanol, ammonia, hydrogen, we’re looking at electro fuels, we’re looking at fuels where you can decidedly say we use captured CO2 in its production, therefore, what comes out of the funnel makes it zero emissions overall. It strikes me that in the road towards decarbonisation, there seems to be different roads towards decarbonisation, depending on how you define that Well-to-wake or fuel story?
Madadh MacLaine 07:19
Well, I wouldn’t use the term alarm. I’m I’m not alarmed. I’m very familiar with the fact that most businesses look at short, short term, financial survival. And so they’re looking for the easiest solution, and they’re not casting out into the future to see what the wider implications of all of that is. And this is really the role of the academic community for environmental NGOs, to support the shipping industry, in their due diligence. You know, I think that we’ve got shipping companies got any engine manufacturers, you’ve got fuel providers, bunkers, you know, the whole energy industry, who are looking at they are really looking at survival. How are we going to, you know, and they’re looking at it in the short term, how are we going to survive the transition in the next coming years without looking forward to how will we achieve absolute true zero and then back casting from there to see what that path forward is? And that’s really what our role is, is to say, okay, we’re charging to true zero. That’s where we want to get we know we need to be there. What are the steps, we need to take now to assure that we don’t head off in the wrong direction and start building bridges to nowhere and ending up with stranded assets? Because as we hit some of these tipping points and start seeing some of these feedback loops, you know, you better believe that there’s going to be some extreme regulations coming into place. So our objective is to assist the industry into getting into that safe haven of true zero as quickly and as efficiently as possible, with the least expense possible and for as many stakeholders as possible.
Craig Eason 09:17
Given that you’re wanting to take this event to Glasgow and the UNFCCC’s COP meetings, and the political discussions relating to the speed of the IMO, you could be accused of trying to usurp, not usurp the IMO, but to take away some of the pressure of the IMO by putting the decarbonisation of the shipping industry elsewhere. Do you see this as a way to put additional pressure on the IMO then by taking your events to Glasgow and taking the story of shippings decarbonisation closer to UNFCCC rather than than the IMO?
Madadh MacLaine 09:57
Absolutely not. Absolutely not. Because we’re bringing the IMO with us. The IMO will be engaged in this event and we will take what comes out of this event directly to the IMO. We’re working very closely with the IMO on this.
Craig Eason 10:10
Do you see there being a set of outcomes that you’ll have from the event which will say, this is what we are going to do in the next five years, a set of promises by stakeholders are going to be at your meeting in Glasgow.
Madadh MacLaine 10:26
Yeah, I like to use the word commitments from stakeholders. Our intention is that the outcome of this is, is an action plan, a navigational chart to zero with waypoints based on realizable actions and available technologies and implementable policies. And so this is very much it’s— We will create as I said, an action roadmap that will have waypoints where we will come together, meet, see how we’re doing, create collaboration, check in on those collaborations, and then we’ll meet again in COP 27 to update this this roadmap. So it’s really ongoing. it’s the start of a journey.