Zero carbon footprint at sea

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Maritime transport footprint

If the shipping industry were to follow specific recommendations, zero emissions could be achieved by 2035. 

Every time you buy a new pair of shoes, a computer or anything else online, your order will most likely travel by ship to its destination. That is why maritime transport is one of the most important in the world and at the same time the most polluting.

This industry is essential for the import and export of food, medicines, basic necessities, etc., around the world.

The drawback is that today it is responsible for at least 3% of greenhouse gas emissions, which translates into tons of CO2 that reach the atmosphere every day.

If we compare maritime transport to a country, it would be the sixth most polluting country in the world.

And what is most worrying is that the IMO (International Maritime Organisation) does not plan to halve emissions until 2050 – our planet cannot wait that long, it needs us to act sooner.

Luckily a new project, driven by the Ocean Conservancy and the non-profit organisation Pacific Environment, wants to get the shipping industry to neutralise its carbon footprint before it’s too late.

What is the plan to reduce the carbon footprint of the maritime industry?

The Ocean Conservancy and Pacific Environment published a report in which they claim that the industry can achieve zero emissions by 2035 (that is, 15 years earlier than originally estimated).

How? By creating a policy that requires all vessels docking in a US port to have carbon reduction measures in place. In addition, these measures should be extended to the entire transport chain such as cranes, trucks, trains, etc….

In order to comply with the carbon footprint reduction plan, these vessels will have to use a much more sustainable fuel such as green hydrogen made from splitting water with renewable electricity.

Some smaller vessels have already started using green ammonia, which is made from air, renewable energy and water, and is an easier fuel to manufacture and store than hydrogen.

It would also be very good to be able to use electric batteries, which, although they cannot store enough energy for very large boats, can provide auxiliary power.

Using sails for small boats is also very useful for reducing fuel use by the industry.

Can this plan work?

The reality is that the new fuels cannot generate as much energy as fossil fuels, and they are more expensive, not only in terms of purchase price, but also in terms of production price.

Even so, small steps can be taken, such as a return to traditional sails.

There are even companies that are manufacturing small wind power generation systems for the shipbuilding industry, which could boost the speed of ships and reduce fuel use.

According to the International Maritime Organisation, all ships must use fuels with a very low sulphur content.

Alternatives are emerging such as biofuels: biodiesel and bioethanol. Biodiesel comes from animal fats and vegetable oils or by fermentation of renewable sources of sugar or starch, such as cassava, corn, sugar beet, sugar cane and wheat. 

Liquid natural gas is already in use, especially on ferries and short-haul vessels. More sustainable sources such as renewable energy or nuclear propulsion are also being explored.

The electric boat points to a possible major revolution in the sector.

Furthermore, in recent years, the shipping industry has developed relevant innovations in the field of ship design, batteries for ship electrification, new fuels, green ports and smart logistics that are promoting a more sustainable supply chain.

If this plan is followed to the letter, the shipping industry could reduce its carbon footprint by 50% by 2025, 80% by 2030 and achieve zero emissions by 2035.

Our commitment to the planet and to reducing our carbon footprint

At The Rigging Point we also do our bit to minimise the ecological impact we leave on the planet, we want to leave a beautiful footprint, a clean footprint, without pollution and always in connection with nature and the environment.

To this end, we take action on a daily basis, and we carry out a carbon footprint study every year to minimise our emissions as much as possible.

If we all do our bit, in the long term, the changes will not only provide a climate benefit, but a radical change in the society that today suffers the ravages of an unsustainable pace of life.

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