Charting the path to maritime carbon neutrality by 2050

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MARITIME transport is one of the most important nodes in international trade due to its significant effect on the overall performance of global supply chains. The plethora of maritime traffic and maritime commerce, on the other hand, had a significant negative impact on the marine environment and human health.

According to statistics from the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, the global commercial fleet grew by 63 million dwt between January 2021 and January 2022. The majority of fuel used in shipping is oil-based and the fuel combustion, responsible for air pollution caused by exhaust gases.

According to the International Maritime Organization (IMO), with almost 90% of world trade carried out by sea, the maritime sector accounts for around 3% of annual global carbon emissions.

According to the IMO, global shipping emissions could increase by up to 130% by 2050. In early 2020, the IMO introduced new sulfur regulations that set a limit on sulfur content in fuel oil used on board ships from 3.5% down to just 0.5% weight to weight.

First, the IMO has set a target for CO2 emissions in the shipping industry: a 50% reduction in CO2 emissions by 2050, compared to 2008. The IMO has also agreed to reduce the carbon intensity of international maritime transport by 40% by 2030, and to work towards a reduction of 70% by 2050.

Reducing carbon emissions in the maritime industry is also key to Malaysia’s carbon agenda. As a vital link in the global supply chain, promoting carbon reduction initiatives would help address the industry’s impact on the environment and climate change, particularly in the maritime and port sector.

There are other key benefits that will overcome existing compliance issues, such as meeting the sustainability objective, enhanced biodiversity, healthier socio-economic status and a stronger focus on sustainability. promotion of renewable energies.

Malaysia, as a flag state, port state and coastal state, has ratified nearly half of the IMO conventions to ensure safe and secure shipping, with the protection of the marine environment being a major concern. Therefore, it is essential that the Malaysian maritime industry sets its own decarbonization milestones that are in line with the IMO plan to reflect the commitment made.

Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob, in his presentation of Malaysia’s 12th Plan, emphasized that the government aims to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. Carbon neutrality refers to the process of balancing greenhouse gas emissions ( GHG) by removing an equal amount of carbon from the atmosphere. in exchange for the quantity produced.

A maritime industry strategic plan should clearly define the status, issues and potential courses of action for the particular topic, as well as provide a roadmap. Although great progress has been made, significant hurdles must be overcome before the industry can achieve such ambitious goals.

Ongoing actions fall under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and sustained action under the Paris Agreement will serve as the basis for the development of the net zero emissions framework. The agreement required Malaysian governments to make long-term commitments to reduce GHG emissions and to increase these efforts over time.

Raising awareness in the maritime community of the need for action to achieve net zero carbon emissions in the Malaysian maritime industry is essential. To date, Malaysia is on the right track. Some of its port administrators have endorsed the IMO decarbonization roadmap, encouraging port operators to follow IMO standards on reducing carbon emissions and energy efficiency of ships. Port Klang, for example, is committed to contributing by being an early adopter of green technologies.

At the same time, there is huge room for improvement in terms of effectively reducing carbon emissions. Research and development investments in the development of green technologies and the manufacture of high value-added goods seem to contribute to achieving the objective of carbon neutrality by 2050.

At some point, Malaysia must improve its energy efficiency given the significant increase in global maritime trade volumes and carbon-free energy must be derived from non-fossil fuels or renewable energy sources such as methanol, ammonia and hydrogen.

Recognizing the importance of promoting sustainable maritime development, Malaysia may also be able to achieve its goal of carbon neutrality by 2050 by establishing a roadmap. Therefore, the government should emphasize the need for a new governance framework to strengthen administrative and legislative concerns.

Malaysia has several agencies to support the very ambitious goal; now is the time to establish tremendous synergy between the authorities involved while eliminating unnecessary bureaucracy.

The newly developed governance framework is key to moving the maritime industry towards carbon neutrality. The results will undoubtedly help society, the economy and the country as they complete Malaysia’s 12th Plan target of achieving net zero emissions by 2050. – March 9, 2022.

* Dr. Izyan Munirah Mohd Zaideen is a Senior Lecturer at the Faculty of Maritime Studies, Universiti Malaysia Terengganu and Captain Mohd Faizal Ramli is a Marine EHS Specialist.

* This is the opinion of the author or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of The Malaysian Insight.

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