Darr: We can’t afford to focus on one solution

The shipping industry has to have an open mind and look at a wide range of solutions to decarbonize, avoiding the risk of focusing on a single pathway, Bud Darr, Executive Vice President, Maritime Policy and Government Affairs of MSC Group, said.

Darr was one of the panelists of the Leadership Insight series, hosted by the International Chamber of Shipping on Wednesday, titled Asian Shipping Spotlight.

Speaking on the topic of energy transition and decarbonization of the shipping industry, he explained that the entire sector will need to decarbonize.

Furthermore, the post-pandemic economic recovery is expected to have a close relationship with the growing need to switch to alternative sources of energy, which is evident in the recovery strategies of the European Union and the Green Deal as well as the aspirations of other nations to become carbon neutral by 2050, he said.

However, Darr believes shipowners should not fall into the trap of looking solely at those solutions that point towards one particular pathway or one particular fuel because these could lead down a very dangerous path.

“We have to manage the risks of climate change as well as our own economic investments. We think in terms of economics all the time when we make business decisions. Therefore, society can’t afford for us to bet on one particular pathway and have it be wrong. So it’s really important we keep an open mind, have a diversity of views and be willing to move quickly once the solutions are really available at scale,” he said.

Furthermore, Darr believes that the political aspirations driven by the mounting pressure from society to push toward zero-carbon emissions are a bit unrealistic at the moment as they exceed the technical capabilities of the market to deliver those objectives.

“It’s not for lack of desire by shipowners. But we are not in the business of creating fuels and bringing them to the marketplace and being able to distribute them. We’re not in the business of creating energy conversion devices such as internal combustion engines or fuel cells- that’s not what we do. However, what we will see as a catalyst to this is that those that do specialize in those things will bring these solutions to the table. We, as shipowners, have to be willing to trial them, take some risks ourselves, and demonstrate that they work.”

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