The world’s largest shipping company Maersk is investing in ships that run on methanol to save 1m tonnes of CO2 a year.
Maersk said it would spend $1.4bn on eight container vessels capable of operating on carbon-neutral methanol as well as traditional bunker fuel.
The global shipping industry currently produces almost 3% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions.
The vessels, which will be able to carry around 16,000 containers each, will be built by Hyundai Heavy Industries with the option to add an additional four vessels in 2025. The ships will cost around $175m each, approximately 10-15% more than current container vessels.
Maersk also said it aims to only order new vessels that can use carbon neutral fuel as it looks to hit net zero emissions by 2050.
Soren Skou, chief executive at Maersk, said: “The time to act is now, if we are to solve shipping’s climate challenge.
“This order proves that carbon neutral solutions are available today across container vessel segments and that Maersk stands committed to the growing number of our customers who look to decarbonise their supply chains. Further, this is a firm signal to fuel producers that sizable market demand for the green fuels of the future is emerging at speed.”
However, the company admitted sourcing enough methanol from the outset would be “challenging” as current production rates would not be enough to power the ships.
Henriette Hallberg Thygesen, CEO, fleet & strategic brands at Maersk, said: “This is the ideal large vessel type to enable sustainable, global trade on the high seas in the coming decades and from our dialogue with potential suppliers, we are confident we will manage to source the carbon neutral methanol needed.”
The company, which ships products for the likes of H&M and Unilever, said more than half of their 200 largest customers have set, or are in the process of setting, zero carbon targets for their supply chains.
Michelle Grose, head of logistics and fulfilment at Unilever, said: “Unilever is committed to accelerating the transition to clean transport solutions, not just in our own operations but along global value chains as we work to achieve net zero emissions by 2039.
“With logistics and distribution accounting for around 15% of our greenhouse gas emissions footprint, it’s important that we work with partners shifting to lower carbon fuels. We are proud to partner with Maersk as they pioneer carbon neutral transportation on the high seas.”
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