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Clean Energy Ministerial: boosting shipping’s role in the global energy transition

As part of ICS’ review of power levers in shipping’s green transition, this month we explore the influence and outcomes of the Clean Energy Ministerial

26 October 2022

The Clean Energy Ministerial (CEM) has forged stronger links with the shipping sector to accelerate green energy transitions.

Held as part of the US Department of Energy’s Global Clean Energy Action Forum (GCEAF) in Pittsburgh from 21-23 September 2022, CEM’s thirteenth ministerial meeting announced a range of initiatives to boost the energy transition, such as the Pittsburgh Action Pact, which saw 16 countries pledge US$94M for clean energy technology demonstrations.

The Energy Ministers meeting also highlighted the  Clean Energy Marine Hubs initiative (CEMH), which was presented at CEM by the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS), International Association of Ports and Harbors (IAPH) and representatives from the Clean Energy Maritime Taskforce. The CEMH, a first of its kind cross-sectoral public-private platform (now supported by UAE, Canada, Norway, Uruguay and Panama) will be able to benefit from and work closely with CEM’s initiatives on hydrogen, industry, biofuels and ports. Importantly, it will become a key link between the energy and maritime industries going forward to facilitate the production and transportation of low-carbon fuels in countries seeking to export via shipping.

The CEM forum brought together 29 energy ministers from leading governments, as well as a wide range of companies, regulators and other experts to collaborate on carrying out a green transition. Global collaboration, practical implementation and building public-private partnerships lie at the heart of its aim to accelerate green energy transitions.

Speaking to ICS Leadership Insights, Dan Dorner, CEM Head of Secretariat, explains that CEM aims to bring together the “right countries, the right experts, the right companies, regulators, whoever that coalition may be, to get things moving as quickly as possible”.

Delegates from ICS emphasised the importance of being able to represent the maritime sector at the highest level in the energy community to showcase the critical role of shipping as an enabler for the transportation of low-carbon fuels worldwide, and push forward collaborative action.

Guy Platten, ICS Secretary General, says: “I think the value for us is surely being listened to and pushing that education piece that shipping is part of the global solution for climate change. We had ministers saying, ‘What do you mean there is only one hydrogen carrier at demonstration phase in the world at the moment?’ ‘Wow. I did not know that.’ That is why we have to be part of the discussions.”

Chris Wiernicki, ABS President, Chairman and CEO, underlines the importance of public-private partnerships. “A big takeaway was that we had about 20-30 energy ministers there, [and] began to see for the first time the start of public-private partnership. Commercial gravity alone will not get us there, but we really need to find out how and where governments step in.”

The CEM has started the process of addressing this challenge.

The focus on green shipping corridors and clean energy marine hubs at the forum was significant for shipping, with Wiernicki noting that it was especially important to engage with ministers on these initiatives as they are tied to national strategies.

He adds: “There is a big interest now in green corridors and clean energy marine hubs and how to work together to put a pathway out there to bring the right players, test beds, accelerators, and bring all the pieces together.”

Elsewhere, US Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry joined in the shipping discussions. Bud Darr, EVP for Maritime Policy and Government Affairs at MSC Group cites this as an indication of the attention the sector is receiving in the US Government.

Wiernicki concludes: “What came out from the talks [at CEM] was that there are two stories for shipping’s decarbonisation, shipping for shipping but also shipping for the world. Government needs to see shipping not just as a CO2 contributor but as part of the overall clean energy transition solution. This is something we have to build on – every year counts and time is important.”