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Shipping companies face levy to develop zero-carbon vessels

By Charlotte Ricca

$2 levy on every tonne of fuel would raise vital funds of $5bn over a 10-year period for research and development

Shipping companies may have to pay a $2 levy on every tonne of fuel, to raise vital funds for the research and development into zero-carbon vessels.

According to the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) maritime transport carries around 90 per cent of global trade and is currently responsible for approximately 2 per cent of the world’s CO2 emissions.

The proposed levy, which will raise $5bn over a 10-year period, will go towards research and development into decarbonisation, in order to achieve the Paris Agreement’s climate-change goals.

These targets include cutting the sector’s total greenhouse gas emissions by at least 50 per cent by 2050, which requires a carbon efficiency improvement of up to 90 per cent.

To achieve this the shipping industry aims to use zero-carbon technologies and propulsion systems, such as green hydrogen and ammonia, fuel cells, batteries and synthetic fuels produced from renewable energy sources, by 2030. But more research and development is needed before they can be applied to large commercial ships.

“In practice, if the 50 per cent target is achieved, with a large proportion of the fleet using zero-carbon fuels by 2050, the entire world fleet would also be using these fuels very shortly after, making 100 per cent decarbonisation possible – which is the industry’s goal,” said Simon Bennett, deputy secretary general of ICS.

However, campaigners are sceptical about the proposal, claiming it won’t reduce emissions in the short term.

Doug Parr, the chief scientist at Greenpeace UK, said while investing in R&D is a good thing, it’s “suspiciously close to a delaying tactic, if it is not accompanied by clear reduction targets”.

Nico Muzi, the director of communications and campaigns at Transport & Environment, described the $2 levy as “simply ridiculous” as it is 42 times less than current CO2 prices in Europe.

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