More than 20 countries have agreed to work towards establishing “green shipping corridors” to be used by zero-emission vessels.
During COP26 22 countries including the UK, US, Japan and Australia signed the Clydebank Declaration, which aims to set up six such corridors “by the middle of this decade” and “many more” by 2030.
“We will assess these goals by the middle of this decade, with a view to increasing the number of green corridors,” said the declaration.
The corridors – between two or more ports – will be used by ships producing no carbon emissions, though other vessels will be permitted to use them.
Signatories agree to facilitate partnerships with ports, operators and others to “accelerate the decarbonisation of the shipping sector and its fuel supply”.
The declaration said if no action is taken, international shipping emissions were expected to represent 90-130% of 2008 emission levels by 2050.
Currently shipping makes up around 3% of total global emissions.
“In supporting the establishment of green corridors, signatories recognise that fully decarbonised fuels or propulsion technologies should have the capability to not add additional GHGs [greenhouse gases] to the global system through their lifecycle, including production, transport or consumption,” said the declaration.
Anna Ziou, environment policy director at the UK Chamber of Shipping, said: “The creation of zero-emission shipping lanes is an important step on the journey towards a net zero future. It is vital that governments support operators and port infrastructure so the ambition of the declaration becomes a reality.”