Swedish Shipping to Go Fossil-Free by 2045

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CC BY 2.0. Ship in Copenhagen/ Lloyd Alter

This could speed up progress for the industry in general.

From spinning sails to kite-power, there are plenty of ideas out there for reducing the carbon footprint of the shipping industry. Usually, however, they are supplemental power sources, designed to reduce overall emissions, but not eliminate them entirely.

Business Green reports, however, that the Swedish shipping industry has loftier goals: aiming to go 100% fossil fuel-free by 2045. Specifically, the Swedish Shipowners' Association is working with a government initiative called Fossil-Free Sweden to figure out a roadmap for their industry to contribute to overall national goals of 70% emissions cuts for domestic transport by 2030, and net zero by 2045.

If achieved, that would put Sweden ahead of shipping giant Maersk—which is aiming for the same goal by 2050. But it's good to see pressure building from multiple sides, hopefully creating the kind of competition that can move innovation forward even faster than expected. (It's worth noting that this comes hot on the heels of concern that installing scrubbers on existing ships and/or switching to lower sulphur fuels could be counterproductive.)

Now, exactly how the industry achieves its lofty goals remains to be seen, but an opinion piece by two industry leaders suggests they are betting on a mix of electric propulsion, significant efficiency improvements and 'low carbon' biofuels (careful now!) to get them where they need to go.

As usual, with goals like this, I'm as encouraged by the existence of the effort as I am about the specifics of the target goal date. By laying out where we need to get to, the industry is putting initiatives in motion that will likely have a momentum all of their own.