Is the shipping industry’s R&D climate fund a Trojan Horse?

(Climate Change News, 8 Jan 2020) Comment: A proposed $500 million annual fund for climate innovation in shipping is welcome, but falls far short of a strategy to cut rising emissions.

At the end of 2019 the shipping industry surprised the world by proposing a $500 million per year global fund – dubbed the International Maritime Research Fund (IMRF) – to finance research into climate solutions for the sector.

On the face of it, this is a welcome addition to existing plans to clean up shipping. However, the timing and the public spin of the proposal left many wondering whether the IMRF is a Trojan Horse.

I hope that this is not the case because part of the industry seems to be genuine about the need for such a fund to accelerate the deployment of carbon-free fuels. Let me explain our worries.

In brief, the IMRF proposes to levy €0.6 ($0.7) on each tonne of CO2 that ships emit ($2 per tonne of fuel). Ostensibly, the goal is to generate about $5 billion in funds over the next 10 years. These resources would fund research and development (R&D) into carbon-free marine technologies that would help decarbonise the sector.

For pure R&D and pilot tests, this amount might arguably be adequate so long as the money is spent efficiently. Together with other funding streams, including the EU Innovation Fund, a possible future EU Maritime Climate Fund under the emissions trading system (ETS), private investments by the individual shipping companies and shipyards, the IMRF could be sufficient to develop and test new marine technologies.

In that respect, I welcome this proposal and the efforts of the parts of the industry that have genuine intentions in developing it.

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Climate Change News, 8 Jan 2020: Is the shipping industry’s R&D climate fund a Trojan Horse?