Interferry chief executive Mike Corrigan explains how the global trade association is supporting the ferry sector’s leading role in finding solutions to an ominous challenge
What would you say if asked to name the shipping industry’s three most dramatic future challenges? From the ferry sector perspective, I suggest it’s a no-brainer… emissions, emissions and emissions.
I cannot avoid stressing the imperative for greenhouse gas solutions at a time when Planet Earth’s environmental sustainability is under threat as never before. Over recent months, the ever-increasing speed and spread of climate change has prompted a heightened sense of urgency across all responsible-thinking sections of society. A pointed redefinition of the issue – now commonly described as ‘The climate emergency’ – demonstrates their recognition that drastic strategies must be adopted without delay to avert a life-changing crisis.
The maritime community has been responding to the alarm signals for many years, as evidenced in January when the IMO-sanctioned 0.5% sulphur cap on marine fuel entered force. It is another step in the right direction, but we all know this is not a long-term silver bullet. As such, I very much welcome an International Chamber of Shipping proposal – backed by members including Interferry – that will be submitted to IMO’s Marine Environment Protection Committee at MEPC 75 in late March/early April. The emissions-cutting initiative calls for mandatory contributions from the shipping industry to establish a US$5Bn fund to cut emissions through R&D into new fuels and technologies.
Such support will be vital if shipping is to reach existing IMO mandates for global energy efficiency improvements of 40% by 2030 and 50% by 2050 compared with 2008 levels. Current technology should enable the 2030 target, but 2050 raises the unprecedented necessity for ships to be entirely reliant on fossil-free fuels.
Meanwhile, short-term regulatory measures towards these targets are being developed at an almost frightening pace. IMO has decreed 2023 as the deadline for implementing proposals featuring stricter requirements on the Energy Efficiency Design Index (EEDI), shaft power and speed. Moreover, the measures will apply retroactively, so existing ships would have to be adapted to meet newbuild efficiency standards – which poses a unique risk to the viability of current roro and ropax vessels. In contrast to deepsea tonnage, ferries have many more variables in their operating speed and design efficiency, so one size does not fit all in their ability to reduce emissions. Interferry will continue to lobby IMO to ensure the sector-specific dictates of ferry design and operation are taken into account.
Our big issue in this respect is the energy efficiency index for existing ships – EEXI – which together with the EEDI will measure efficiency according to a ship’s capacity to carry weight. That is not relevant to the ferry sector, where carrying ability is measured by volume. Our definition of an efficient ship has to be different because our cargo includes passengers and is so different to most other ship types.
We are also concerned that various jurisdictions are now suddenly reversing their support for previously approved initiatives such as using LNG and exhaust gas scrubbers. Many of our members adopted these solutions in good faith and now need reassurance that their huge investments will be respected even after more advanced technologies become a proven option.
The ferry sector is already widely acclaimed for leading the shipping industry’s drive towards zero emissions. Long before the wave of regulatory demands, ferry operators have embraced social responsibility by pioneering the trail to decarbonisation with cutting-edge innovations including electrification and soon-to-come hydrogen power. This commitment to long-term technologies underlines the resolve of Interferry and its members to play a commanding role in helping to solve one of the world’s most demanding challenges.
Riviera’s Maritime Air Pollution, Americas Conference will make sense of prospects post 2020 and the short, medium and long-term implications of maritime decarbonisation on 5-6 March 2020 in Miami, USA. Book your ticket now