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COP 23: Shipping industry demands a “maritime energy transition”

The shipping industry must contribute to global climate transition. The goal of shipbuilders, suppliers and shipping companies must be a “maritime energy transition”, which will make shipping CO2-neutral in the long term and completely emission-free beyond that. The participants of a podium discussion initiated by VDMA on the decarbonization of the shipping industry agreed on this point at the World Climate Change Conference (COP 23) in Bonn.

Midway through the conference, the mechanical engineering industry voiced its strong support of the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement. “Delaying international climate protection efforts would only result in greater investment costs in clean technologies at a later date,” says Peter Müller-Baum, Managing Director of VDMA Engines and Systems. “That would be a huge disadvantage for the industry,” he emphasized. Müller-Baum supported the demand for a “maritime energy transition” which was initiated by VDMA, amongst others.

All participants were in agreement that the maritime industry will only be able to achieve the ambitious goals of the Paris Climate Agreement with the corresponding stipulations from the International Maritime Organization (IMO). “The artificial taxation of CO2 would most likely be the quickest way to generate momentum,” said Axel Kettman, who represents ABB Group as Vice President of the International Council on Combustion Engines (CIMAC). A charge on greenhouse gases would provide the chance to invest in emission-reducing technologies and also in synthetic, CO2-neutral fuels, he explained.

“The industry needs planning certainty in order to ensure the necessary investments”

“The industry needs planning certainty in order to ensure the necessary investments,” added Dr. Andreas Lingens, Managing Director of L’Orange, an MTU subsidiary. “The path to CO2-neutral and emission-free shipping is very complicated. The technical solutions must be developed further, and this cannot be done without a clear, legal framework,” he added.

Hermann-Josef Mammes, Head of the Research and Development Department at Meyer Werft, explains that a lot more can be done today than the law requires. His company, like many VDMA members, is a pioneer for clean technologies, however: “We can only sell what people want.” Mammes highlighted the cruise ship industry as a positive example, as many customers are increasingly opting to use clean LNG as a fuel for their ships. “However, a completely internationalized sector like the shipping industry requires internationally aligned laws,” says Mammes.

The mechanical engineering industry views itself as a key industry in terms of climate policy, as companies in this sector equip other sectors with efficient and emission-reducing technologies. The mechanical engineering industry can therefore provide an important contribution towards achieving the goal of the Paris Climate Agreement of restricting global warming to 1.5° C. It is vital in this regard that the respective requirements are expressed in a transparent and technology-neutral manner so that companies can reliably invest in climate protection.