Photo: Illustration; Image by Offshore Energy

T&E blasts EU’s ‘leaked’ green shipping law for including LNG, biofuels

An EU law intended to drive the uptake of clean fuels by ships will actually lock in the use of fossil fuels for decades, Transport & Environment (T&E) said citing a leaked proposal of a law mandating ships to progressively switch to sustainable marine fuels.

Specifically, the current draft would lead to shipping mostly switching to LNG and biofuels in the foreseeable future, which the environemntal organization believes would not result in the EU meeting its 2050 decarbonization goals.

LNG has been identified by the maritime industry as the transitional fuel, however, it has been under a lot of fire over its well-to-wake impact on the environment.

On a 20-year horizon, LNG, which is essentially methane, has 86 times higher global warming potential than CO2, Ingrid Andersen, Head of Decarbonisation Targets & Life Cycle Analysis & Frameworks at A.P. Moller – Maersk explained. The same principle is also applicable to ammonia and hydrogen, which despite being zero-carbon fuels, need to be produced in a green manner in order to be truly sustainable which is not the case right now.

More than half (55%) of the energy used by ships calling at EU ports could be LNG and biofuels by 2035, according to T&E’s analysis of the proposal’s ‘climate’ targets.

“This is despite LNG offering minimal emissions reductions and, when burned, releasing methane – a global warming gas up to 36 times more potent than CO2. Most biofuels are worse for the climate than the fuels they replace, and those that do offer emissions savings are not available at scale,” T&E said.

Biofuels would provide one-fifth of the fuel of ships calling at EU ports in 2035, according to the analysis. If all of it comes from used cooking oil (UCO), this would drive up demand by EU transport for UCO by an additional 5.1 Mt in 2030, further increasing the gap with what can be supplied sustainably to Europe.

“This supposedly green fuels law would push the cheapest alternatives, which are also the most destructive. Counting fossil gas and biofuels as green will lock shipping into decades of further pollution while we should be promoting renewable hydrogen and ammonia,” Faig Abbasov, shipping programme director at T&E, said.

“It’s not too late to save the world’s first green shipping fuel mandate. The EU Commission should exclude LNG, crop biofuels and, at a minimum, apply the same sustainability criteria for waste biofuels as under the Renewable Energy Directive. There also needs to be incentives for the uptake of e-fuels, green hydrogen and ammonia, such as dedicated sub-targets or multipliers to boost their competitiveness.”