Decarbonisation of the Australian Maritime Industry

The Australian maritime industry met at the inaugural Maritime Decarbonisation Summit to discuss the challenges and opportunities associated with decarbonising the sector. The following overarching themes were identified:
• The maritime energy transition must not compromise human safety and the protection of the environment.
• Stakeholder collaboration is critical to ensure the decarbonisation challenge is met. Vessel operators, unions, vessel designers, new energy suppliers, legislators and regulators, ports, financiers and science, research and training institutions must work together.
• We need a proactive and engaged government to provide the leadership and strategic direction, investment and support required to unlock the potential for Australian businesses to capitalise on our unique advantages and the opportunity that the maritime energy transition presents.

Australia’s maritime industry carries 95%+ of our freight task and is made up of a diverse suite of vessels and operators. All are major contributors to the national economy, facilitators of domestic and international transport, trade, and tourism, and are critical to our engagement in the global economy.

For Australia to meet its ‘Net Zero by 2050’ goal, there is an urgent need to accelerate the necessary work to transition our maritime industry to low and zero-carbon fuels, in line with other important industries and contributors to the Australian economy.

As a ‘hard to abate’ industry, international shipping contributes 2-3% of global GHG emissions, and on a business-as-usual trajectory, emissions are predicted to rise. The IMO Initial Strategy provides a vision and a pathway towards the reduction and phasing out of GHG emissions this century, but the sector faces multiple challenges in achieving this in the required timeframe, given cost, scale and lack of supply and distribution infrastructure for alternative fuel options.

Australia’s domestic commercial vessel industry faces similar challenges, although the smaller vessel sizes and shorter voyages, provide some opportunities for early adoption of existing low and zero emissions technology.

We commend the Australian Government’s commitment to the Clydebank Declaration and the Quad Shipping Taskforce to promote low and zero emissions shipping corridors, and the partnership with the Government of Singapore to accelerate the deployment of low emissions fuels in maritime and port operations. We invite the Government to actively engage with industry on implementation.

Australia also has an opportunity to be a major supplier of low and zero carbon fuels domestically as well as to the global maritime industry. This in turn benefits to our energy and supply chain security.

Globally, many of the regulatory and structural elements required for the international maritime industry to begin to transition and remain competitive have already been established, and it is imperative that Australia moves quickly to adopt the necessary regulatory and legislative frameworks to underpin long-term investment here.

The Australian maritime industry is highly engaged on this issue and is seeking to actively partner with both State and Federal governments and key stakeholders to work together to accelerate this important transition.

The MIAL Maritime Decarbonisation Summit Series will continue to provide a platform for information exchange, discussion, and progress on this very important issue.

Deputy CEO at MIAL Angela Gillham at the Maritime Decarbonisation Summit Series in Melbourne on April 27 2022.

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