Time period: 2018-Present

Members involved: Bunge, The China Navigation Company, Forum for the Future, IMC, Lloyd’s Register, Louis Dreyfus Company, Maersk, Oldendorff Carriers, RightShip, South32, WWF

Partners: Forum for the Future

Ocean transportation is currently the most environmentally sound mode of transport in terms of CO2 emissions per tonne of cargo transported. Despite this, shipping is still responsible for 2.6% of total global anthropogenic CO2 emissions, which is broadly equivalent to the emissions of Germany.

The adoption in April 2018 of the IMO initial strategy on the reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from ships sets out a vision to reduce GHG emissions from international shipping and phase them out entirely in line with the goals of the Paris Agreement. For this to be possible, zero-emission vessels (ZEVs) must enter the global fleet as soon as possible.

In May 2018, the SSI released a report on Zero Emission Vessels (ZEVs) as part of its Low-Carbon Shipping working group, following which members agreed to embark on a deep dive into biofuels, taking place across three phases described below.

The SSI aims to bring together a diverse range of stakeholders to contribute thought leadership, canvass different perspectives, convene debate, and feed into the ongoing and wider dialogue on decarbonisation, zero emission shipping and the role of sustainable biofuels in the energy transition

Phase 1 (2018) of the deep dive into biofuels for shipping generated an internal SSI knowledge paper raising nine key questions facing the shipping industry surrounding its adoption of biofuels. Following this, SSI members agreed on the need for wider engagement within and beyond the maritime industry to respond to these questions and the emerging challenges in the ongoing debate on biofuels for shipping.

Phase 2 (2019) saw the launch of an inquiry into the sustainability and availability of biofuels for shipping, conducting an extensive stakeholder consultation process throughout 2019 – facilitated by sustainability non-profit Forum for the Future – that brought together a diverse range of stakeholders encompassing actors in shipping, climate, energy among other sectors. The inquiry sought to answer the question: “Based on an in depth stakeholder engagement on the viability, suitability and sustainability in the context of the wider system – What is the role that biofuels play, if any, in the decarbonisation of shipping?”

In Phase 3 (2020-21) the deep dive will further unpack outstanding issues and unanswered questions raise in phase 2’s inquiry, with a specific focus on the availability of sustainable biofuels for shipping, exploring:

  • the potential sources and availability (current and potential) for sustainable biomass feedstocks
  • the demand for sustainable biofuels in the short-, medium-, and long term, and how this will play out in the future mix of alternative fuels for zero emission shipping
  • competing sectors for the pool of supply
  • shipping’s role in the bio-economy and broader energy transition

The role of sustainable biofuels for shipping

  • Stakeholder consultations and roundtables on sustainability issues and availability considerations
  • High-level panel event at Climate Week New York 2019
  • Preliminary findings shared with additional industry stakeholders at IMO’s Symposium on IMO 2020 and Alternative Fuels and the 6th Intersessional Working Group on the Reduction of GHG Emissions; as well as the annual meeting of the Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials (RSB)
  • Report launched at the 2019 United Nations Climate Change Conference, COP25 and submitted in 2020 for consideration by the Intersessional Working Group for the Reduction of GHG Emissions