Green Marine Sets Sail

article picture: Green Marine Sets Sail


Marine sector stakeholders need to unite in tackling air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions from shipping – as well as finding new ways to power vessels more sustainably.

International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) strategy is to reduce sector-wide emissions by at least 50% by 2050. To deliver this, significant numbers of zerocarbon ships, or ships that can be easily adapted to use low or zero carbon fuels later in their life, will have to enter the fleet as early as the 2030s.

Appearing at the World Economic Forum in Davos in January 2020, IMO Secretary- General Kitack Lim commented that as some parts of the world are flooding while others are burning, there can be little doubt that addressing climate change must be “humankind’s major priority”. According to Lim, ambitious regulatory targets will act as the catalyst for technology, triggering research, development and innovation.

“Now is the time to start developing the vessels, the fuels, the delivery mechanisms and all the other necessary infrastructure to support zero-emission shipping”, he stated.

Turning specifically to the need for a collective approach throughout the entire global supply chain, Lim added that collaboration in this area is likely to include developing and testing low or zero-carbon fuels; better communication and planning over berth availability to help with speedoptimization and just-in-time arrival; and supplying cleaner on-shore power for ships in port.

Planning for a zero-carbon shipping industry, however, cannot be done in isolation, he noted. “Infrastructure developments and investment decisions also need to be made collaboratively,” he said, calling for cross-sectorial R&D initiatives as well as new transferable and scalable technologies.


While cruise ships comprise far less than 1 percent of the global maritime community, cruise lines have been at the forefront in developing responsible environmental practices and innovative technologies. In December 2018, the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) announced a historic global cruise industry commitment to reduce the rate of carbon emissions across the industry fleet by 40 percent by 2030. Furthermore, CLIA very much aspires to the IMO’s vision of a carbon-free shipping industry by the end of the century.

The commitment to reduce the rate of global fleet emissions by 40 percent is the outcome of a collaborative process designed to build consensus among cruise line leadership. Progress toward the 40 percent target will be measured against a 2008 fleet baseline, and emissions rates will be calculated based on the industry fleet’s total carbon emissions, total ship berths and total distance traveled.

According to CLIA, the reduction will be fueled by innovative technologies for energy efficiency in ship design and propulsion. The industry’s first liquified natural gas (LNG)-powered ship was launched in 2018, and some 25 such ships could be operating by 2025. While LNG ships principally address pollution, there is also a corresponding benefit for carbon emissions reduction.


At present, cruise lines work with scientists and engineers to develop cutting edge, sustainable environmental innovations and practices, investing $1 billion in new technologies and cleaner fuels. Among these advancements, the industry has designed and installed exhaust gas cleaning systems (EGCS) on ships to reduce emissions by as much as 98 %.

Cruise lines will also implement Ship Energy Management Plans for route planning and maintenance to reduce fuel consumption and carbon emissions. According to plan, energy efficient design standards will reduce CO2 emissions by 30 percent by 2025.

In addition, cruise lines prioritize energy efficiency as part of their environmental protection programs. Investments include energy-efficient engines and hull coatings that reduce friction and fuel consumption, as well as energy-saving LED lights and higher efficiency appliances.



Olli Kaljala, Marine Chief Executive for Finland and Baltic States at Bureau Veritas, points out that shipping plays an important part of the global economy, transporting more than 80 % of world trade by volume.

“What’s more, shipping manages to do this while releasing the least amount of greenhouse gasses per transported unit. Still, approximately 3 % of global greenhouse gas emissions are caused by shipping,” Kaljala says.

According to Kaljala, the use of alternative fuels is regarded today as “a key area” of technological development for sustainable transport.

“In shipping, there is today a consistent focus given to the potential application of different cleaner fuel solutions, with some of them posing substantial challenges to ship design,” he assesses.

Green Voyage 2050 – agreement signing.


Kaljala observes that today, ship owners have a long list of alternative clean fuel options to choose from on the road to a carbon-free future, each with their own advantages and challenges.

“From increasingly common LNG solutions, via fuels that could play a role in the future such as Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG), electricity, methanol and biofuels, to less developed options such as carbon free hydrogen and ammonia,” Kaljala lists, while advising not to forget about wind power, either.

“Wind propulsion is a leading decarbonization technology. However, it receives limited consideration in sustainable shipping discussions,” he says.

Classification societies such as Bureau Veritas are playing a significant role in supporting the development of IMO regulations, as well as industry standards for design, operation and bunkering.

“We are involved in various joint industry projects to assess technical feasibility and safety risks of alternative fuels – considering both thermal engines and fuel cells. We also support forerunners in developing and completing projects,” says Kaljala.

Text by Sami J. Anteroinen

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