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Thursday, November 19, 2020 

According to Erik Hnell, CEO of Stena Bulk and Kim Ullman, CEO of associated company Concordia Maritime, the narrow-minded age discrimination of oil tankers counteracts urgent efforts to reach the IMO requirement to reduce CO2 emissions from shipping to 50% per cent by 2050.

"Decarbonisation of the shipping industry is possible, but only if we seize the opportunities available to also improve the environmental performance of existing tonnage," said Hånell. Stena is working hard on minimising greenhouse gas emissions, and like many competitors, is making significant progress. This relates both to designing and building new generations of energy-efficient vessels, but also innovations and enhancements to existing tonnage – which are essential to reach the 2050 reduction targets. But the narrow-minded age discrimination of oil tankers is jeopardising the entire industry’s global CO2 efforts.

Stena Bulk belives that much technology for creating a pathway to the 2050 reduction targets is already accessible, and optimisation of existing tonnage can reduce fuel consumption significantly – potentially up to 25%. However, developing and implementing new technologies is expensive – and unnecessary age restrictions are, without doubt, sub optimising the willingness to make the necessary financial commitments.

Governmental incentives, green finance and investor pressure can put necessary activities in motion. Co-ordinating efforts to reduce CO2 emissions would make R&D of the most promising solutions, such as hydrogen and fuel cells, more cost-efficient.

Different kinds of fossil-free fuels are being evaluated and they are, to a high degree, compatible with machinery and equipment on existing ships. Stena’s biofuel tests have proved that realistic alternatives to diesel exist. Even if they take limited steps towards a major legal requirement, they can become stepping-stones towards fossil-free shipping. The main obstacles are availability, standardisation, and price.

Hånell belives that new rules and regulations must be introduced globally to create a level playing field. Domestic or regional requirements are steep thresholds for global trading. "All of us are familiar with IMO’s decarbonisation ambitions. Now, we need to know how they will be measured. By ship, by company, by country or some other way? Decarbonisation of the shipping industry is possible – and Stena is ready and willing to shoulder our responsibility on this urgent journey towards a sustainable transport society."

Hånell and Ullman say that cooperation between all stakeholders is essential: authorities, finance institutions, shipping companies and the fuel industry. Shipping must move away from its legacy and traditional business model; moving focus to ships that are built to last through several cycles.

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