The Sustainable Shipping Initiative (SSI) has published a white paper setting out sustainability issues and principles surrounding marine fuels under consideration for shipping’s decarbonisation.

The paper, titled Defining sustainability criteria for zero and low carbon marine fuels, outlines thirteen sustainability issues and principles to be taken into consideration to ensure that the marine fuels the industry is investing in, purchasing and using to transport cargo are sustainable over their entire lifecycle and not causing negative impacts.

The sustainability principles and criteria will feed into the development of industry standards and third-party certification schemes to assure and facilitate the selection of – and demand for –sustainable marine fuels.

As the industry transitions to zero emission shipping, stakeholders across the shipping value chain are increasingly aware of the need to better understand the sustainability issues surrounding the zero and low carbon marine fuels under consideration. The sustainability principles and criteria can be used by stakeholders across the shipping value chain ranging from shipowners (as fuel purchasers); fuel producers and suppliers; shipping customers; regulators; and investors in zero emission shipping.

The white paper was developed in consultation with SSI members and industry stakeholders to identify the sustainability issues and principles around the zero and low carbon marine fuels currently under consideration. In parallel, academic research conducted in partnership with Copenhagen Business School (CBS) Maritime through the Green Shipping Project will further test, challenge and/or validate SSI’s work, providing a robust evidence base to inform a final set of principles and criteria to be released later this year.

Through this white paper, the SSI hopes to spark debate and dialogue around sustainable marine fuels as part of the industry’s decarbonisation journey and invites all interested stakeholders to engage by sharing their feedback.

Defining sustainability criteria for zero and low carbon marine fuels is available here.

Nicole Rencoret, Head of Partnerships and Development, Sustainable Shipping Initiative: “Selecting zero and low carbon marine fuels is not just about price, availability and technical feasibility. They must also be sustainable over their entire lifecycle – including the operations around the production, transport, storage, handling and use of marine fuels. SSI invites industry stakeholders to join us as we work towards facilitating standard setting and putting in place certification schemes to assure marine fuels’ sustainability.”

Katharine Palmer, Global Sustainability Manager, Lloyd’s Register: “While it is important that zero-carbon vessels are commercially viable, technically feasible and safe, the sustainability of new fuels also needs to be equally considered. SSI’s new paper raises the importance of the sustainability of future zero-low carbon fuels from a lifecycle perspective – bearing in mind the impacts from primary feedstock, production processes, transport, storage and operational use, so the problem isn’t moved elsewhere in the supply chain. We hope SSI’s new criteria and principles can be used by the market to set a sustainability standard and provide full supply chain transparency and assurance.”

Simon Bennett, General Manager – Sustainable Development, The China Navigation Company: “This SSI white paper [setting out sustainability issues and principles surrounding all marine fuels under consideration for shipping’s decarbonisation] seeks to close a knowledge gap that is widely recognised by the parties who will have to implement the move to an alternate fuel/s. In making this move, the parties must avoid the “leakage” issue that was found with implementing the Montreal Protocol [on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer in 1987], in which responsible organisations, in changing to a lower ODP substance in one area inadvertently increased the Global Warming Potential of the substitute in another area.

This white paper proposes the wide range of sustainability issues to be considered. We expect that by mid-2021, in cooperation with CBS, we will have robust data to support the next steps; the development of quantitative sustainability requirements for each criterion, and then engagement with competent external parties to certify these.”

Mark Lutes, Senior Advisor – Global Climate Policy, WWF Climate and Energy Practice: “Decarbonizing the global economy by 2050 is one of the most important challenges of our time, and the shipping sector cannot be left behind. Central to this task is finding the best low and ideally zero emission fuels, that have the lowest possible negative impacts and the greatest contribution to sustainable development over their entire lifecycle. This report proposes a set of principles and criteria as a basis for assessing the sustainability of potential alternative shipping fuels. We are now seeking input and suggestions for how to improve and operationalize these principles and criteria, to ensure that the shipping sector is part of the solution to a zero emissions global economy. “

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