New ICS report pinpoints ‘risk multipliers’ to maritime’s green transition

The International Chamber of Shipping (ICS), in its new Maritime Barometer Report 2022-2023, has revealed that uncertainty over fuel availability and infrastructure puts at risk ambitions to meet decarbonisation targets, reinforcing the need for a clear plan of action to mitigate risk.

The report, published today, is the first full-scale annual survey of risk. More than 130 C-suite decision makers, half of them shipowners and approximately 35% consisting of ship managers, have provided insight into the issues preoccupying them and how they are placed to manage their impact.

The aim of this report is to present objective insight into perceived industry risk and confidence, which can be used to inform how the industry – and individual stakeholders within it – respond to key issues.

The report highlights a maturing of the shipping industry’s understanding of the complex implications of the energy transition.

Some key ‘risk multipliers’ emphasized in the report are:

  • Risk posed by unilateral or fragmented regulation is growing but can be reduced if regulators pursue a long-term strategy to align with maritime’s global regulatory framework.
  • A shift towards greater protectionism may threaten maritime trade and mitigation requires government appreciation of the significance of seaborne trade for global prosperity.
  • Sustained pressure on supply chains in recent years means ship operators are increasingly comfortable with the need for continuing investments to deliver resilient service.
  • The perennial challenge of piracy combined with new war and cyber risks means that malicious threats to vessel safety remain a prime concern.
  • COVID-19 may be under control but lessons learned – particularly over seafarer welfare and essential trade – need to be permanently integrated into corporate and government policy.
Credit: ICS

While the practical implications of new greenhouse gas reduction regulations have continued to be the biggest concern for two years in a row, respondents also demonstrated evolving opinions on the fuel landscape. This includes a shift in attitudes towards wind and nuclear power as potential, viable energy sources.

The following risks were also taken into consideration:

  • Availability of alternative fuels and supply infrastructure outweigh concerns about the status of ship technology as influencing factors in future investments.

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  • Nuclear power is anticipated sooner than some may imagine, with 9% of respondents projecting that nuclear commercial vessels will be viable within the next decade.

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  • Fossil ‘drag’ remains a factor in maritime, with several respondents expressing preference for LNG or heavy fuel oil over the coming decade.
  • Wind-assisted propulsion is growing in appeal, driven by the emergence of a wider range of demonstrable prototypes in operation from late 2022.

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“Make no mistake, shipping and maritime will be at the heart of many of the changes that the coming decade will bring, which is why it is imperative that we remain active participants in national and international discussions. Although our individual interests may vary, mutual understanding and collective action to leverage capabilities are the keys to a better future not just for our sector, but other sectors – and indeed, the world as a whole,” Emanuele Grimaldi, Chairman of the International Chamber of Shipping, commented.

Grimaldi also added that delays in government decision-making will have far reaching consequences for the shipping industry as key choices regarding supply chain resilience, greenhouse gas reduction measures (including carbon pricing, alternative fuel availability and the provision of new onshore bunkering infrastructure) will determine how the industry evolves over the next decade.

“As financial and political risk has risen, particularly due to the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, so too have concerns about companies’ capabilities in managing these issues. A key takeaway for this year is that although some risks hold the potential to have a serious impact on operations, maritime leaders have high confidence in the industry’s abilities to manage these situations,” he stressed.

“The Maritime Barometer provides clear signals for policymakers and industry leaders alike. In turbulent times leaders need to move quickly to navigate change and succeed,” Stuart Neil, Director of Strategy and Communications, concluded.