Group Partners
Nov 18, 2017 · 9 min read

Global Shipping’s Action Plan’ Summit — 23rd session of the ‘Conference of the Parties (COP 23) — 13th November 2017 Bonn, Germany

150+ leaders of shipping leaders gathered together on board a floating venue in Bonn to develop an action plan in support of Ambition 1.5°C. The overriding aim was for the decarbonisation of international shipping.

The dictionary defines ‘ambition’ as a strong desire to do or achieve something.

Our aim was to turn that desire and intention to achieve into something practical and physical — we did that through structured visual thinking. We translated the complexity of all the perspectives and ideas through visualisation revealing the clear themes and actions that we are now taking forwards.

“There is a plethora of near market-ready technologies, we have a heterogeneous global fleet and can match the best technologies to the most suitable ships to build a future proof, green supply chain to support global trade in a decarbonized future.” — Di Gilpin CEO and founder of the Smart Green Shipping Alliance

Important Background

When shipping was omitted from the Paris Agreement, developed during COP21 in 2015, the need for shipping to contribute its ‘fair share’ of GHG reductions and to decarbonize quickly and deeply enough to meet the higher ambition target of limiting global temperatures to 1.5oC, as indicated in the Paris Agreement, did not disappear. Rather, it catalyzed the need for a business-focused approach that pushes ahead of regulatory mechanisms.

“We have a choice — make the changes and lead from the front — to influence and guide regulation — or suffer the shock and catch up when regulation hits — and it will…”

Appropriate technology is available right now or in the pipeline. The industry needs to get started and adopt what’s already available and build ‘1.5-ready’ ships. The industry needs to be able to continually adapt as new technologies come of age and wherever possible included in original designs.

An Important Moment In Time

The summit provided a timely and unique opportunity for the participants to join forces, discuss and then confirm the capabilities and ambition that the industry holds when it comes to decarbonization. Unlike other events, this summit was not focused on the ‘if and when’, but rather the ‘how to get started’ on this journey towards a greener, decarbonized maritime industry.

“To get the industry from where it is today to the current target is a big task — almost a moonshot project. We need to treat it in that way…”

Getting Everyone Onboard

There was no shortage of energy and passion for the discussion throughout the day. We saw the whole event as a clear signal that collaboration and motivation to find solutions was high. We saw clear evidence that we have a huge amount of knowledge and insight to draw on.

“The planet is at a crossroads. The decisions we make today set the foundation for 2018 and beyond. Countries must increase their ambition to put us on a path to a 1.5C future.” — Manuel Pulgar-Vidal — Peru Environment Minister

An Ocean Of Opportunity

The climate challenge needs to be communicated far better. It must be explained in ways that gains our attention and means far more to us as human beings.

Think about it — sea levels will rise 6 ft in the lifetime of a child born today. The shipping industry, alongside every other industry needs to make far more meaningful progress. Our aim was to stmulate the most critical conversation we could — at the same time as not missing any crucial insights.

In the image below we captured many of the broader issues that came up and are also opportunities for everyone to consider.

The Focus For The Day

The discussions progressed through 3 primary topics —

Technology, Enablers and Actions.

The day allowed us to bring together inspiring stories that we intend to use to encourage others to take more action. Over the day an emerging picture of the ‘landscape’ started to grow. This became a collective response to the very real threats that we had captured around the forcing question for the day:

The Exam Question:

What Will It Take For The Shipping Industry To Work Together To Meet The 1.5 Degree Ambition And Make. A Vital Contribution To The Future Of Our World?

Technology was a big topic for the day. The question is not whether there are solutions that can be leveraged today, it’s more about understanding how we make the right choices is such a complex landscape.

“Efficiency alone will not take us to the targets, we are running out of options there. We have to adopt new technologies and we need to be able to start addressing the challenge today…”

The Technology Discussion

  • Which solutions for which vessels?
  • What can be done in the short term?
  • Where do we need a longer term response?
  • Where should we focus on local solutions and where do we think global?

All of these variables start to shape a framework against which we can lay down the technology roadmap that makes sense regardless of any one organisations role or agenda.

The Enablers Discussion

Enablers come in many forms, some vital for us to leverage the technology solutions, others to remove barriers and increase the likelihood of success. We distilled the enablers that were discussed into an initial high level set:

  • Collaboration
  • A Systemic Perspective
  • Authentic Dialogue
  • Investment
  • A Science Based Measurement Approach
  • Openness to New Thinking

Of all the discussions the final one of the day — focused on action — was perhaps the most energetic. From that discussions principles started to show up, synergies became more evident and we saw the start of coherent action pathways emerging.

The Action Discussion:

Reaching A Destination

The summit concluded in consensus that the international shipping industry does have the technology toolbox required for decarbonization. However, some solutions required are still in late-stage development, not yet mature, or require significant upscaling for deployment and market readiness.

Also, participants concluded that investments in alternative fuels are key for shipping to decarbonize in the longer term.

The high ambition approaches and conclusions made by participants at the summit for the baseline requirements of a decarbonization Action Plan were:

  • We will build demonstrator vessels for the trialling of new technologies.
  • We will push for the urgent adoption of a science-based target for carbon emissions.
  • We will push for a much tighter, more robust Energy Efficiency Design Index (EEDI).
  • We will build a ‘coalition of the willing’ of those ready to collaborate across the industry in tackling the 1.5oC decarbonization challenge.
  • We will define ‘transparency’ in the industry and drive the adoption of that transparency in relation to emissions and operational data.
  • We will ensure that the decarbonization debate is broadened to involve all stakeholders, enhancing synergies and emission savings across the entire value chain.
  • We will develop more global forums based on focused working groups, including an Asia advocacy group.
  • We will ‘Make Shipping Sexy’ through communication strategies in order to:

A. foster a multiplier ‘Ambition’ effect to encourage other actors to engage in decarbonization projects

B. attract new talent to a modernizing industry.

“‘The Wall’ was the highlight of the event. During the course of the long and demanding day one side of the RhineFantasie, our 85 m long floating venue overlooking the UNFCCC climate conference venue in Bonn, became an artwork. The multiple spontaneous, authentic conversations became visual. Themes were structured and grouped and represented in cool and inspiring graphics. We were able to grasp both the enormity of the big picture and pick out the multiple opportunities arising from the complexity…” — Di Gilpin

Several commitments made at the summit will sit at the core of the decarbonization Action Plan:

  • To make a container ship available as a test/demonstrator vessel for low carbon and zero emissions technologies.
  • To urgently work towards the establishment of a CO2 levy to stimulate the uptake of clean technology and low carbon operations.
  • To convene a similar summit of the same structure and impact for retailers and local ship owners on a regional basis.
  • To continue the ‘technology toolbox’ discussion and build a robust performance verification process.
  • To find shipping companies who will go beyond legislation — and actively support them.
  • To create an innovation/engineering challenge prize to stimulate the bringing of technology and designs to market.
  • To develop a system that brings forward benefits of emissions saving operational changes and adoption of low carbon technology, prior to mandated emissions levies.
  • To change company operations to collaborate more intensively with equipment suppliers and to further embed more ambitious R&D into company structures.
  • To make a concerted effort to raise the profile of the shipping emissions issue with consumers.
  • To create a powerful platform for cross-stakeholder engagement.
  • To enhance collaboration between Think-Tanks and NGOs that are active in the sector and to pool resources.
  • To call for the greater collaboration of research & technology sharing with developing countries.

“It wasn’t your usual conference — every delegate was actively encouraged to get stuck in, to share views and expertise. Throughout the day the room was abuzz with the exchange of ideas, discussions, disputes and conversations from across industry — shipowners, technologists, engine manufacturers, classification societies, entrepreneurs, bankers, financiers, NGOs, data specialists, academics…” Di Gilpin


All this activity was overseen by UN observers

Following the summit, a briefing document containing a summary of the main challenges and opportunities of shipping industry decarbonization in addition to the high ambition approaches agreed was delivered to UNFCCC delegates, National delegation focal points, the UNFCCC secretariat and all relevant national policy makers to influence discussions around shipping transportation at the COP23 proceedings.

A comprehensive decarbonization Action Plan will also be developed.

Co-organizers of the Ambition 1.5oC: Global Shipping’s Action Plan summit included Lloyd’s Register, MAN Diesel & Turbo, RightShip, MARIKO, Danish Shipping, International Windship Association (IWSA) and Green Ship of the Future. The Sustainable Shipping Initiative (SSI), Carbon War Room and UMAS are advisor to the summit and the official event organizers were The Blue Green Events Company, Mantour Consultancy and Smart Green Shipping Alliance (SGSA).

The summit was officially endorsed by a jury consisting of the UNFCCC partners; the incoming Fijian Presidency of COP23, the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety and the City of Bonn and is an official Climate Partner for COP23.

“Our collective challenge was brought to life, we collaborated and garnered more courage as we felt a common sense of purpose emerging. We co-created our action plan which has now been delivered to the COP23 climate conference. It includes commitments to continue to work for a CO2 tax/levy to stimulate the uptake of technology; workgroups committed to the target to reduce CO2 emissions by 50% of 2008 levels by 2035 and by 70% by 2050/60. Delegates wanted to see a tax on the dirtiest fuel that supports an innovative fund for global demonstrations of low carbon shipping…”

Visit Shipping Ambition 1.5 Website

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Making Our Difference Make A Difference. @JohnCaswell + @Tifferly.

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