Decarbonisation in Shipping

A lot of noise on new technologies, changes to fuels, yada, yada

It can be a lot of fun putting content together to share with others. Of course finding things of interest is not always easy. Sometimes someone just drops an unintentional gift by describing an issue we feel strongly about as;

“A lot of noise on new technologies, changes to fuels, yada, yada.”

This sentence was lifted from a thread raising concerns about the relevance of current regulations and training for seafarers in the new version of shipping we and others, see fast approaching. The full context is absent, but it is not difficult to imagine someone just trying to get on with the day job with dated but functional resources struggling to find the time to pay attention to the noise on new technologies, changes to fuels, etc.

In an environment when crews can’t be changed and the shipping industry struggles even to repatriate the dead these look like changes to come in the future with no need to consider right now. The powers of incumbent legacy, complacency and inertia may also partly explain why some do not see opportunity in change and why disruptors are invariably from outside the sector they disrupt!

Just let me get on with my job

Why all the noise? Why can’t shipping just be left to get on with it as it has done for many decades, mostly out of sight and out of mind? The answer to that lies in increased connectivity and the transparency it has brought to trade flows and the movement of ships. There have always been many voyage stakeholders, but in the past they have been “sleeping partners” unable to monitor or participate in the voyage in a meaningful way, or sometimes even deliberately excluded.

The visibility of shipping brought about by technology has resulted in the stakeholders getting “rowdy” and wanting to exercise their interest in the voyage in new ways. We have seen and will continue to see new expressions of this interest, so expect more Poseidon Principles, Sea Cargo Charter, Black Trail, Emissions Trading Systems and other accountability and compliance measures .

New technologies, changes to fuels

There are many considered articles and reports discussing and analysing the challenges facing shipping. Webinars on technology applications abound. There is also plenty of evidence of countries and shipping companies investing in technology, including data services, automated and remote operating systems and new forms of propulsion.

This voluntary adoption is driven in part by shipping’s inclusion in wider society conversations around climate change, environmental performance and supply chain digitalisation and optimisation. Combined these drivers and a mandated 2050 reduction in emissions are challenging existing commercial and operating practices, hull designs and, importantly, “changes to fuels” and propulsion.

Yada, yada…….

If a climate crisis with existential threats isn’t sufficiently motivating, these developments recognise there are economic and employment benefits to be realised in transitioning to the “new economy” promptly. In a report published in October 2020, the World Economic Forum said the rise of machines and automation would eliminate 85 million jobs by 2025, but, at the same time, expects 97 million new jobs to be created. The WEF stressed the need for “reskilling” and “upskilling” from employers to ensure staff are sufficiently equipped for the future of work.

Under #operationscentre2050 we have communicated our belief there is a need to address the human component of this new working environment in shipping before it fully arrives. It currently takes an individual 10 years to achieve discipline command level in shipping and we don’t even have a syllabus appropriate for the human and technology hybrid workforce requirement knocking on the door. 2025 is almost on us and 2050 looks pretty close!

So what do you think?

We agree there is a lot of uncertainty about what shipping will look like in the future, but there is also no doubt change is happening more rapidly than we have experienced before. For the reasons set out above we do not think these subjects can or should be easily dismissed. Adapt to survive as they say and ……..

Stay connected and safe.

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