With the new U.S. administration, we are expecting a significant reversal in climate and environmental policies. At this point, we have already seen the new administration rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement, an international treaty focused on mitigating the impact climate change will have around the world. We anticipate this is not the first of sweeping changes that will impact the maritime industry.
The environmental impact of the maritime industries has become a more frequent topic in the news lately. A recent International Maritime Organization (IMO) study released last year found the shipping industry's greenhouse gas emissions increased almost 10% from 997 million tonnes in 2012 to 1,076 million tonnes in 2018 and projected a 50% increase in emissions from 2018 to 2050, due to increased demand for transport.
Tackling pollution and climate change isn’t only a role of the federal government. State governments and industry leaders have played an integral role in creating a cleaner, more sustainable future:
- In 2017, Washington Maritime Blue embarked on a project to reduce port emissions and electrify Washington State Ferries’ (WSF) fleet. Maritime Blue’s goal is to make Washington's maritime industry the nation’s most sustainable.
- In 2018, the WSF also became the first U.S. ferry operator to join Green Marine, a rigorous, voluntary, environmental certification program for the North American marine industry. Participants include the Port of Everett, Port of Seattle, and Puget Sound Pilots, who are working to reduce their environmental impact.
The current administration’s plan to rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement and the expected focus on transforming U.S. industries will have a major impact on the shipping industry. Their Build Back Better plan focused towards achieving net-zero emissions by no later than 2050”, will also introduce significant change. This could include upgrades to ports and ferries as they pivot towards clean energy and transportation.
Maritime and shipping industries are constantly changing, it appears that a faster rate of change is the new normal.