COP28 – ‘Shaping the Future of Shipping’

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The First Global Stock Take

As the sails of COP28 unfurl in Dubai, a pivotal moment for the maritime industry takes centre stage. The journey that began with the Paris Agreement in 2015, addressing global climate action, has brought us to this critical juncture.

However, it’s surprising that shipping, a significant player in the emissions landscape, found no mention in the initial document.

Now, at COP28, the International Chamber of Shipping, in collaboration with the Emirates Shipping Association, presents ‘Shaping the Future of Shipping.’ This two-day flagship event aims to illuminate the rapid evolution of shipping’s decarbonisation journey, pointing toward the ambitious goal of achieving net-zero emissions by 2050.

Dubai is placing cutting-edge wind propulsion technology under the spotlight, highlighting its potential in conjunction with the rise of emerging green fuels. While, in the short term, this method might not contend on an equal basis with established green fuels like methanol, ammonia, hydrogen, there is optimism that, over time, wind propulsion will emerge as a credible alternative. The anticipation is that it will contribute significantly to energy savings, aligning with the overarching objectives of the ‘Sustainable Development Goals.’

Globally, the commercial shipping industry is embracing wind-assisted propulsion, with Gavin Allwright at the helm of the International Windship Organisation spearheading the International Windship Organisation spearheading the ‘Decade of Wind Propulsion 2021–2030.’ Notable projects include sail-propelled cargo ships in Brittany, Japan’s ‘Wind Challenger’ hard sail system, and innovative designs in China and South Korea.

In Brittany, TOWT prepares to put two exclusively sail-propelled cargo ships into action in 2024. In Japan, TOKYO-Mitsui O.S.K. has developed the hard sail system ‘Wind Challenger’ on the 2022 delivered bulk carrier ‘Shofu Maru.’ In China, NACKS is designing a bulk carrier with methanol and rotor sail capability, while in South Korea, the keel was recently laid for an innovative combined sailing cargo ship for shipping in the South Pacific. Finally, Omani Shipowner Asyad has signed a contract to install rotor sails on a Valemax/Sohar Max – making the 362-meter-long ore carrier the ‘world’s largest ship with a wind propulsion system.’ The list is not exhaustive, indicating a widespread shift toward wind-assisted shipping.

While many wind-propelled vessels are in the design stage, their builders and owners envision fleets of 30 to 80 vessels by 2050 when the marine industry is designed to be truly green. These projects signal a broader commitment to sustainable practices, ushering in an era where the ‘Trade Winds’ will once again assist sailing ships in making their journeys worldwide.

In the coming decade, the ‘Decade of Wind Propulsion,’ we anticipate fleets of vessels harnessing the power of wind, moving us closer to a truly green marine industry. he maritime industry, once tethered to conventional practices, is now hoisting the sails of sustainabilit

Reina Maria van Pallandt is a senior disputes resolution lawyer with dual British and Dutch nationality. Reina Maria obtained a degree in Dutch Law and Public International Law (LLB Hons) at the University of Amsterdam and was subsequently admitted as a Solicitor of the Senior Courts of England & Wales in 1979 and to the Law Society of Ireland in 2019. Reina Maria originally practised as a solicitor at Holman, Fenwick & Willan in London and Paris and thereafter at Clifford Chance where she specialised in marine and general commercial arbitration and litigation representing shipowners, P&I Clubs, shipbuilders, repair yards and charterers such as oil and gas companies and commodity traders.

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