Panama, Uruguay, and Norway join Clean Energy Marine Hubs initiative at COP27

ICS Chairman Emanuele Grimaldi with John Kerry , US Special Presidential Envoy for Climate
ICS Chairman Emanuele Grimaldi with John Kerry , US Special Presidential Envoy for Climate; Image by ICS

The governments of Panama, Uruguay, and Norway have signed up to the Clean Energy Marine Hubs Initiative, a worldwide cross-sector initiative aimed at catalyzing the supply of green fuels, and supporting the global energy transition.

The announcement was made on Monday in Egypt at the 27th United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP27).

The three governments join the UAE and Canada, who were the first to join the CEM-Hubs initiative when it was announced at the Clean Energy Ministerial, in Pittsburgh, earlier this year.

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The initiative, which is co-led by a taskforce of CEOs, is a cross-sectoral public-private initiative aiming to accelerate the production, export and import of low-carbon fuels across the world.

The initiative will engage with all members to facilitate information and knowledge exchange on policies, programmes, and decarbonisation projects.

CEM-Hubs is co-ordinated with the support of the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) and the International Association of Ports and Harbours (IAPH), and the Clean Energy Ministerial (CEM). Supporters behind the initiative believe it will help de-risk investment and accelerate the commercial deployment and transport of alternative fuels, which are currently two to three times more expensive than fossil fuels.

The move is being announced as part of the Green Shipping Challenge launch event at the world leader’s summit of COP27. Led by the United States and Norway, the Green Shipping Challenge aims to bring together governments, ports, maritime carriers, shipowners, and cargo owners to find decarbonisation solutions for the industry.

Maritime stakeholders joining the challenge with over 40 decarbonization projects include Maersk, which has joined forces with the Spanish Government to explore green fuels production in Spain, DP World which plans to assign $500 million to CO2 reduction projects as well as Meriura’s plans to build a green cargo vessel that runs on ammonia.

“The scale of the challenge that is global decarbonisation is enormous, and the maritime sector needs to speed up the use of green fuels and technologies. By seizing the chance to work with ports, shipowners, energy providers – and in fact the whole maritime value chain – we and other governments at COP are sending a clear signal to others that there are opportunities for action rather than words on offer today,” a spokesperson for the Norwegian government said.

By 2050, the shipping industry is expected to transport at least 50% of all traded zero-carbon fuels. However, there are currently almost no active projects which demonstrate this practically; for example, just one ship in the global fleet is able to carry liquefied hydrogen.

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A recent submission to the IMO from ICS called for a ‘fund and reward’ scheme to raise money for the first movers who produce and use cleaner fuels. This was aimed at bridging the gap between various governments’ proposals and to ‘kick start’ acceleration of cleaner energy production.

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“A year on from COP26, a great deal is still being talked about the production of hydrogen and other low-carbon fuels, but very little on how this will actually be done. That’s why this initiative is so crucial, because it brings together the whole energy value chain to ensure that producing, transporting, and using net zero-emission fuels becomes a reality,” Emanuele Grimaldi, chairman of ICS, said.

Decarbonising shipping and decarbonising the world are two sides of the same coin. Our ‘Shaping the future of shipping’ conference in Glasgow demonstrated that all stakeholders across the world’s energy landscape need to work together to decarbonise, and I’m delighted to see that reflected by this announcement in Egypt today.”

“CEM-Hubs will become a real and tangible energy transition accelerator in the maritime sector and its clusters, while preparing the path for a green commercial supply chain with hubs prepared for a more sustainable future. The future is not expected, it is built; let’s build it together,” Dr Jorge Rivera Staff, National Energy Secretary of Panama, concluded.