Spotlight on greener shipping as COP26 searches for climate change answers in Glasgow

Tue 2 Nov 2021
Posted by: Noelle McElhatton
Trade News

Supply chain shipping has been in focus at COP26 – the UN Climate Change Conference UK 2021 being hosted in Glasgow until 12 November.

COP26 opened in Glasgow yesterday with a flurry of announcements from global leaders on the importance of acting now to safeguard the planet.

Although not a conference about trade, the speeches and promises delivered will be listened to carefully by the world of business.

Day one of the World Leaders Summit saw high-level addresses from prime minister Boris Johnson and his Italian counterpart Mario Draghi, who are the joint hosts of the event.

Clean up shipping

With shipping under scrutiny to clean up its act, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) secretary general Kitack Lim said a successful COP26 will help drive the maritime decarbonisation process, reports the Loadstar.

Lim said shipping had made great progress, but the transition to alternative fuels must happen more rapidly, and looked for a signal for the IMO to speed up the decarbonisation process.

Reuters reports that Denmark, the US and 12 other countries went some way to making shipping greener by backing a goal to reduce emissions by the maritime sector to zero by 2050, a target to be fleshed out in negotiations at the UN shipping agency.

The initiative, led by Denmark aims to build support among countries as the IMO considers new emissions-cutting measures by a 2023 deadline.

“We urge the IMO to take action to set ambitious targets to achieve zero emission shipping by 2050,” Danish prime minister Mette Frederiksen told a news conference at COP26. “Carbon-neutral shipping is vital to reaching our climate goals.”

Aviation challenge

Aircargo News reports that COP26 provides an exciting opportunity for aviation to challenge itself and push forward with its decarbonisation programmes.

Under current UN timelines, at least 10% of fuel used in global aviation should be sustainable by 2030. Sustainable aviation fuels (SAFs) can be made from a variety of feedstocks, from sources including municipal waste, cooking oil, and waste gases.

However, aircraft and fuel manufacturers Rolls-Royce, Shell and Airbus said last month that the current transition to green jet fuels is too slow and must be achieved before 2030.

Rolls-Royce intends to transition all of its Trent engines – which power around 40% of the world’s long-haul aircraft reportedly – to sustainable fuel by 2023.

EU green investment fund

Today (Tuesday 2 November) the EU unveiled its Catalyst programme, aimed at getting new climate technologies such as green hydrogen to market faster using €1bn of public and private funding.

The scheme, announced by European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen at COP26, was launched in partnership with Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and the European Investment Bank.

From tragedy to triumph

Elsewhere there was a rousing call to action from Sir David Attenborough who called on the leaders of 193 nations assembled to use “hope, not fear” as their motivation to turn “tragedy into triumph”.

At a more granular level, Johnson used the opening ceremony to kickstart a new UK-based Clean Green Initiative (CGI), that will aim to scale up private investment in low-carbon and sustainable infrastructure globally, reports edie.net.

The CGI will see the UK deliver more than £3bn in climate financing over the next five years to support developing countries. 

Methane pledge

The BBC reports a global methane pledge, agreeing to cut emissions by 30% by the end of the decade. US and EU leaders say tackling the greenhouse gas is crucial to keeping warming limited to 1.5C.

US president Joe Biden has hailed the “game-changing” commitment from almost 100 countries who have pledged to cut their methane emissions by 30% by 2030, reports the Telegraph.

HM the Queen, who has stayed away from Glasgow due to medical concerns, has urged world leaders to look beyond their own lifetimes and “answer the call of future generations” with an ambitious agreement to tackle climate change, reports the Times.

In a video speech the monarch said that “none of us will live for ever” and urged them to rise above “the politics of the moment”.