“An eye on the big picture”
In conversation with the Italian chairman of the International Chamber of Shipping. The ICS, which represents 80% of the global fleet, has been headed by Emanuele Grimaldi since 2022. The ICS’s chairman of the board spoke to Christian Doepgen at the World Port Conference in Abu Dhabi early in November.
The International Chamber of Shipping (ICS), founded in London in 1921 and the global representative of national shipowners’ associations, regularly raises its voice of experience on the major issues concerning the future of shipping – including decarbonisation, digitalisation or crewing shortages. The World Ports Conference of the International Association of Ports and Harbors (IAPH) provided an appropriate setting for a discussion with Emanuele Grimaldi, the ICS’s chairman of the board.
Grimaldi has a clear take on the core issue of decarbonisation. “The industry’s very ambitious deadlines can only be reached in a pragmatic way.” As a long-standing partner of the World Maritime Organization (IMO), the ICS agrees with the latter’s goal for the industry to be climate-neutral by 2050. There’s no patent remedy for implementation, however. Overall, the sector currently accounts for about 2% of global greenhouse-gas emissions.
“I’m in favour of a broad range of solutions,” says Grimaldi, who sees the advantages and disadvantages of the different drives and fuels. He knows all of the requirements of ammonia as an alternative fuel from his own experience, for example. “The engine room has to be insulated from the rest of the ship if this gas is used.” This is but one of the hurdles, as Grimaldi knows. “There’s a great need to train crews, and there aren’t any official regulations for its use yet.”
Whether LNG, hydrogen or synthetic fuels are used as bridging technologies, with their various advantages and disadvantages for the climate, it’s important that shipping continues on its new trajectory. In the medium term Grimaldi expects “a cocktail of fuels” to be used at sea.
It won’t do to be blinkered here, so Grimaldi is also open to allowing the deployment of nuclear propulsion systems in merchant shipping, as it has been tested on icebreakers and navy vessels – “but only if all of the safety issues have been clarified and the crews have been suitably trained.”
The ICS’s chairman of the board also considers CO2 capture and storage, which is relevant to reducing emissions, to be an underestimated matter that the industry needs to address.
Grimaldi sees the IAPH World Ports Conference as one very suitable framework in which to coordinate the various measures. “We have to bring all of the stakeholders to the table, to keep an eye on the big picture.” The maritime shipping industry is in the process of doing its homework for the long term.