Green shipping: Silver bullet to Africa’s climate change woes

The shipping industry is not left out in the quest for a more sustainable future as the world grapples with climate change.

From the bustling ports in Mombasa, Kenya to the shores of Cape Town, South Africa, players in the African maritime industry are making concerted efforts to green their operations. International shipping accounts for 2.2 per cent of global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and the UN’s International Maritime Organization (IMO), has a long-term goal to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 50 per cent from 2008 levels by 2050.

Achieving this target will require the fast-tracking of zero-emissions fuels and commercially viable ships by 2030 as these vessels will still be part of the ocean-going fleet in 2050.

From innovative new fuels to cutting-edge propulsion systems, the race for green shipping is heating up, and Africa is no exception.

From the use of cleaner fuels to the adoption of digital platforms and the incorporation of solar power into port operations, the race for greener shipping is on.

John Amingo, acting director Kenya Maritime Authority, emphasised the importance of decarbonization in the industry, stating that, “it’s not just the oil, but it’s the procedures and the processes and the efficiency that enhance the arrival and departure of ships.”

He also highlighted the significance of embracing green energy in port operations and the need to incorporate solar power into their operations.

Mangroves are also playing a vital role in the green revolution, as they absorb carbon dioxide from the air, Amingo stated that “if there is a way that those who pollute can pay the extent to which they’re polluting and that money finds its way through a better process, then it motivates people to plant trees and mangroves and get money.”

one of the biggest challenges facing shipping is reducing emissions. According to Nancy Karigithu, Special Envoy for Blue Economy, investment in low-carbon shipping requires significant financial resources, which may not be available in many African countries.

“Developed countries have advanced technology that can support low-carbon shipping, but developing countries may not have access to these technologies,” said Dr Karigithu.

Despite these challenges, there are many opportunities for climate change mitigation and adaptation. According to Karigithu, “we are endowed with all the resources required to power green transformation. Hydro, geothermal, wind and solar power potential is abundant. The mineral resources needed by green energy technology also exist in plenty in Africa.”

Global initiatives

Policy interventions are essential for accelerating the transition to low-carbon shipping in Africa. Karigithu argues that “governments in Africa need to develop and implement policies and regulations that support sustainable maritime transport, as well as aligning their efforts with global initiatives.”

The use of alternative fuels and digital solutions can support the decarbonization of shipping in Africa. According to Karigithu, “biofuels and hydrogen have lower carbon emissions than traditional fossil fuels and can be produced from renewable sources.” She also notes that “the use of automation technologies, such as autonomous vessels and drones, can improve the safety and efficiency of shipping while reducing emissions.”

Kwaku Ofori, Ghana’s Transport Minister, called for ambitious decarbonisation goals for international shipping to be set, which would play an effective role in achieving the Paris Agreement.

Mr Ofori stressed that reducing shipping’s carbon footprint was vital for the health of the planet.

“The reduction of shipping carbon footprint will require tremendous changes in how ships are designed, operated, as well as the need for training and education of those operating new vessels,”he said.

He expressed confidence that Africa can contribute immensely to the decarbonisation agenda with its young and growing workforce and natural resources, creating new economic opportunities for the continent.

“There is no better time than now for the world to reduce greenhouse gases as the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere continues to rise,” Ofori emphasised.

“The time for us to take action is now. Let’s just commit to a low-carbon future.”

Shadrack Mwadime, Principal Secretary State Department for Shipping and Maritime  said despite achieving minimal levels of carbon emission in Kenya’s shipping industry, the country faces many challenges.

“We face challenges with ships sailing on our waters. We must address this issue, particularly with regard to our fishing practices,” Mwadime said.

With its rapidly growing economy and bustling ports, Africa is poised to play a key role in the global effort to decarbonize the shipping industry. But the road to a sustainable shipping industry is not without its challenges, and the race for green shipping in Africa is just getting started.

Source; The standard

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