Green for go

Green shipping corridors are extending between more key ports than ever before. Who is leading the way and what are their steps to success?

Green shipping corridors are extending between more key ports than ever before. Who is leading the way and what are their steps to success?

With the world’s 100,000 commercial vessels guzzling roughly 300m tons of fossil fuels each year, shipping contributes 3% of global emissions. In the UK, that rises to about 5%.  

To enable a smooth green transition, ports are making plans for ‘green shipping corridors’ (GSCs) – shipping transportation routes where carbon emissions will be cut using various methods, including zero-emission fuels and technologies.  

A blueprint for going green 

A GSC is essentially a collaboration that solidifies alternative fuel supply chains and offtake agreements, while providing real-world applications of green innovations and new business models.  

To begin such a collaboration, a pre-feasibility blueprint can help. Rocky Mountains Institute and the Mærsk Mc-Kinney Møller Center for Zero Carbon Shipping have shared a blueprint for assessing the feasibility of green shipping corridors. The guide considers fuel supply readiness, port and infrastructure requirements, regulatory support and cost calculations.  

GSCs may be in their infancy, but key developments are underway across the world – from the UK and Europe, to the US and China. GSCs are being developed between the ports of Los Angeles and Toyko and Yokohama in Japan, where an agreement to start the project is to be signed this year. The world’s longest GSC will be between Rotterdam and Singapore, a distance of more than 9,000 nautical miles. 

Carbon neutral Channel 

Maritime trade routes between Dover and France carry 33 per cent of the UK’s trade with the EU, so a recent Anglo-French summit agreed to initiate GSCs between the UK and France, linking Dover with Calais and Dunkirk.   

The project will continue the work of the Green Corridor Short Straits consortium, which is partly funded by the UK Department for Transport’s Clean Maritime Demonstration Competition. It is also a collaborative effort between academics, stakeholders, the Port of Dover and cross-Channel ferry operators.  

Isabelle Ryckbost, secretary general of the European Sea Ports Organisation (ESPO) told Marine Professional: “From a port perspective, we would like to underline the importance of working together and having the dialogue with shipping lines when it comes to ‘greening’. If ports do not know what their customer will do to green, ports cannot facilitate and prepare in a cost-efficient way.” 

The Port of Dover has committed to net zero goals between 2025 and 2030, meaning carbon neutral cross-Channel shipping could soon be a reality. Zero emission battery-powered electric ferries and electric vehicle charging points at ports could also be available before long.  

The Clean Tyne Shipping Corridor 

The Clean Tyne Shipping Corridor project, which will cost over half a million pounds, has received £390,000 funding from the UK government. This will support zero-emission shipping and the government’s Clean Maritime Plan, by completing a feasibility study into a GSC in the North East that could later connect to the European Green Corridors network. In this alliance of academics and European institutions, the government and private sector, the project will develop, demonstrate, and utilise zero emission fuels, vessels and infrastructure.  

For anyone involved in a GSC collaboration there are guides and support available, such as through ESPO, so that maritime can edge closer to net zero. With the effects of climate change on the world – and the ocean itself – becoming increasingly evident, the corridors must open as soon as possible. 

Clarissa Wright

Clarissa Wright is a freelance science journalist and Editor of NatureVolve