France to bankroll development of zero-emission ships with €300 mln, backed by $200 mln from CMA CGM

France plans to assign € 300 million in public funding to help catalyze the decarbonization of its shipping sector and the development of zero-emission vessels.

The move was announced by the French secretary of state in charge of maritime affairs, Hervé Berville at a conference held in Lille on Tuesday, as part of the “France-Mer 2030” plan of reducing carbon emissions in the country’s maritime sector. The plan covers a period of seven years, and it would include a 10-month consultation period with industry stakeholders.

The funding would be dedicated toward maritime innovation, the ultimate goal being the development of a zero-emission vessel design.

Speaking at the event, CEO of CMA CGM Rodolphe Saadé vowed to support the innovation fund with a contribution of €200 million with the aim of helping decarbonize the French maritime sector.

The French container shipping major plans to use the funding from the special fund created in September, backed by a five-year $1.5 billion budget, to accelerate its energy transition and achieve net-zero carbon by 2050.

The fund will support the industrial production of new fuels and low-emission mobility solutions across the company’s business base, including maritime, overland and air freight shipping, port and logistics services, and offices.

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The company has been investing heavily in decarbonization activities, including LNG-powered ships. Nevertheless, CMA CGM wants to transition from LNG as a bridging fuel to e-methane. The company’s “e-methane ready” fleet currently counts 29 vessels in service and is scheduled to have a total of 77 by 2026.

Furthermore, in June 2022, following in the footsteps of Maersk, CMA CGM placed its first order for methanol-powered vessels. The shipowner ordered a total of six 15,000 TEU dual-fuel methanol-powered containerships from an unnamed shipbuilder.

The newbuilds are planned to join the CMA CGM fleet by the end of 2025.