By: Sigrun Gjerløw Aasland, head of the environmental organization Zero.
In the Hurdal platform, the government has set a goal of reducing Norwegian emissions by 55 percent by 2030. By 2050, emissions should be at zero. That entails a significant dip in the emissions curve. Norwegian shipping companies and the maritime supplier industry have everything to gain from setting an example and taking the lead in the fight against climate challenges. For this to happen, greater momentum is needed, and stronger policies.
The good news is that the technology is well on its way, with rapid development in short sea shipping in recent years, and great opportunities in batteries, hydrogen and ammonia. Long-distance transport will require further technology development, and the entire shipping industry needs strengthened political support. Three steps are crucial to speed up the green shift at sea.
Norwegian shipping companies and the maritime supplier industry have everything to gain from setting an example and taking the lead in the fight against climate challenges.Sigrun Gjerløw Aasland, leader of Zero
First, climate requirements for public procurement, licenses and regulations must be tightened. The technology shift in ferry traffic is one of the biggest successes in Norwegian climate policy, and demonstrates the power of courageous public procurement policies and strict climate requirements. Here, politicians have stimulated zero-emission technology, both batteries and hydrogen, and ensured that the Norwegian maritime supplier industry is a world leader independent of fossil fuels. Now other ship types must follow. Fish farming and the petroleum industry are obvious candidates for zero emissions requirements. The offshore segment is at the forefront of technology development and requirements should now be introduced for zero-emission solutions, as several political decisions have already predicated. On coastal routes, zero emission requirements should already be established for the next tender period, and an environmental bonus on current contracts must be implemented.
Secondly, going green must be profitable. In the maritime sector, as in many other areas, much of the technology is available, but too expensive. Fleet renewal is costly, infrastructure is lacking, and renewable fuels are more expensive than fossil fuels. A higher CO2 tax and increased volume of renewable fuels will gradually reduce the additional cost, but today the price is too high for most. We need instruments that offer relief in the intermediate phase. The latest example of unpredictability slowing down the green shift is Veidekke, which in January put plans for hydrogen ships on hold. In ZERO, we have advocated contracts for difference (CfD), where the authorities cover the additional cost of producing renewable fuels to replace fossil fuel. As the cost picture changes, it will also be possible to phase out the instrument. In addition, the government should be open to using funds from the CO2 tax, which will increase to NOK 2,000 per tonne by 2030, for investments in climate solutions.
Thirdly, we need binding agreements between the authorities and the business community. It is commendable that the government intends to enter into partnerships with the business community to increase exports, create jobs and cut emissions. Such agreements must be mutually binding, both in terms of emission reductions and financial instruments. The authorities must improve predictability for both large and small maritime actors, and this must happen soon. A maritime climate partnership can show the way and provide the necessary momentum for the green shift, both at sea and on land.