Greening the blue economy – The Hindu BusinessLine

When we talk of ‘green logistics’, it covers sustainable practices across the length of the logistic value chain. However, ‘green shipping’ as a subset is extra significant because around 90 per cent of world trade moves through seas, and the maritime sector accounts for around 3 per cent of total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. 

When more than 10,000 moving ships consume more than 300 million tonnes of fuel oil annually, in addition to the onshore utilisation of fossil fuel-based energy, it is a given that the maritime sector needs to develop a mitigation strategy. It is with this objective that the International Maritime Organisation’s revised strategy aims to achieve net zero emissions by 2050. Endeavours towards this transition are generally considered by the industry as green shipping. Initiatives to use non-fossil fuels in ships, use of non-conventional energy for shore-based operations, and digitalisation of processes are part of this transition.

Global likeminded initiatives include the Green Voyage 2050 project between IMO and the government of Norway, and the Clydebank declaration for developing green shipping corridors. Additional ideations include technology interventions for the use of alternative fuels like liquefied natural gas (LNG), hydrogen, and electric power. Also under discussion is the use of fuel optimisation systems with the help of big data analytics and artificial intelligence, enabling the ship management team to monitor engine and voyage conditions for optimal fuel usage. In addition, integrated process digitalisation efforts are underway at various ports. 

Global south priorities

The recently concluded COP 28 UN Climate Change Conference reiterated the need for many of the initiatives but remained divided between the global north and south. Many countries of the global south require cheap energy as they endeavour to address the needs of poverty alleviation, housing for the needy, and urban and infrastructure development. Hence, they are dependent on fossil fuels without any technological leverage for transition. On the other hand, the developed nations with their high per capita usage of fuel and contribution to emissions are expected to lead and provide financing options for the transition. Irrespective of the hurdles, the global south has made sincere efforts towards the transition to green shipping.

Singapore, a key maritime nation, has made a blueprint for 2050 whereby it has set up future funds for decarbonisation and sustainable maritime transport. Through energy-saving activities like electric mounted cranes, intelligent gate management systems, and green lighting, a beginning has been made. 

As a responsible maritime nation, India too has taken far-reaching steps. Viewing hydrogen as the next-generation potential fuel for shipping and other energy requirements, the national hydrogen mission plans to incentivise commercial production of green hydrogen. We have made strides in LNG bunkering with Kochi terminal setting up a facility. Moreover, all our ports are encouraging shore usage of power through electric motors, adopting strict standard operating procedures to address marine pollution, developing waste recycling methods, and creating green belts around ports. 

Baby steps make waves

The government’s Harit Sagar green port guidelines talk about appropriate infrastructure management. The requirements include creating green cover over 20 per cent of the port area; conversion of diesel-operated machinery to electric power, particularly shore-to-ship power; enhancing usage of renewable energy to 60 per cent by 2030; and minimising usage of freshwater.

While the path ahead is challenging, our baby steps are noteworthy.

(The writer is a maritime expert with the Government of India)

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