Time period: 2018-2021

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, GreenFuelHub

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, which concluded in June 2021 with the release of the Availability of sustainable biofuels report.

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?”

Phase 3 (2020-21) further unpacked outstanding issues and unanswered questions raise in phase 2’s inquiry, drawing on academic research, industry reports, and publicly available data to outline the current landscape for biofuels in shipping, covering biofuel types and production methods, use and trials in shipping, as well as the challenges surrounding availability and shipping’s role in the broader bioeconomy.

The role of sustainable biofuels for shipping

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