Towards a sustainable shipping industry -

Towards a sustainable shipping industry

29 Nov 2021

We are entering the next phase of human evolution. The human species (and many other animal and plant species) must now adapt to the growing scarcity of natural resources, as well as the planet’s rapidly diminishing capacity to absorb carbon emissions. To do this, we need to prioritise collaboration.

As Christiana Figures and Tom Rivett-Carnac (architects of the 2015 Paris Agreement) state in their book ‘The Future we Choose’, we need a new mindset and a focus on creating a better future for the generations to come. This is now visible to all: the UN Sustainable Development Goals provide a framework for governments, businesses, and individuals to work to create a better future for people and the planet. 

This will have a tangible impact on shipping: new strategies have been launched, pilot projects are underway, investors and financiers are moving towards targeted green policies, and new technologies are developing fast. 

In the unlikely scenario that one solution ‘fits all’, and conscious that the shipping industry will not be the main driver in the future energy choice, we strongly believe that transparency and collaboration are the key to this transition. In order to achieve the short and medium terms goals to reduce CO2 and GHGs (Greenhouse Gases), it will be necessary to combine new technical and operational methods, together with the use of alternative fuels.  

The IMO has adopted a strategy to reduce overall CO2 emissions from shipping. In June 2021, it adopted the MEPC (76) amendments, requiring compliance with the EEXI (Energy Efficiency Existing Vessel Design Index) by 2023 and compliance with the CII (Carbon Intensity Indicator) from 2023 onwards. 

Fleet assessments carried out over the last 10 months by RINA confirm the estimations made by the ICCT (International Council on Clean Transportation): to date only 20% of the bulker and tanker fleet is compliant with the EEXI.  

Those vessels which are not in compliance will need to take action in two areas, EPL (Engine Power Limitation) or energy saving device installation, or a combination of the two.  

Our table presents the EPLs that are implied under the EEXI for the fleet in 2019, summarised by ship type and size. 

Table 1. Implied EPLs under the EEXI for the fleet in 2019 

Source: ICCT, from its report ‘Potential CO2 reductions under the Energy Efficiency Existing Ship Index’. Results are shown by ship type and build year, 75% MCRlim evaluation condition. 

Once the global fleet has reached compliance with the EEXI, attention will switch to the CII. Owners of ships over 5,000 GT will need to assess their CII, with vessels being classed A,B,C,D,E,F (best to worst) according to CO2 emitted per year and per transport work. This operational benchmark will set a CO2 limit which will decrease every year (by 2% up to 2026 and then at a rate yet to be defined by the IMO). Indeed, we note that some vessels may be more affected by the CII than the EEXI. 

It is a challenging time for shipowners. The first task should be a prompt fleet assessment pinpointing the action to be taken for the remainder of the vessel’s life, and thus when to invest in energy device installation to ensure the vessel remains competitive from 2026 onwards. 

The digital transformation taking place in the shipping industry will be crucial. We cannot improve current performance without measuring that performance. In order to measure, we need data. Digitisation will play a key role. 

At RINA we are committed to supporting the industry and our partners by providing assistance and support in their assessments, contributing the latest information and our extensive know-how. This applies not only to existing vessels but also to the next generation of ships in order to future-proof those new buildings built in the transition phase. 

To better assist clients, RINA has launched a series of regional decarbonisation committees in Greece, Northern Europe, Italy and Asia which are open to our partners. These will be supported by five specialised transversal working groups focusing on ETS & Fuels EU, EEXI & Design, CII & Operation, Zero Carbon Future Fuels, and Funding & Finance. 

Marta Ponis