Green shipping corridors are gaining impetus: UK government unveils £1.5 million initiative for green maritime routes. The Clydebank Declaration, introduced at the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow in November 2021, represents an important international commitment to decarbonise the maritime sector. Endorsed by 22 countries, including maritime heavyweights such as:

  • The United States,
  • The United Kingdom,
  • Japan, and
  • Germany

The declaration has been a major success in drawing attention to creating zero-emission shipping routes, so-called green shipping corridors, by 2025.

Objectives of the Clydebank Declaration

 The primary objective is the creation of at least six green shipping corridors by 2025, with an ambition to expand this number by 2030. These corridors are specific maritime routes designated for zero-emission solutions, including hydrogen or electric-powered vessels. Declaration emphasises:

  • Collaboration and partnerships among ports,
  • Shipping operators, and
  • Countries to develop the necessary infrastructure,
  • Regulatory frameworks and
  • Technological advancements are required to support zero-emission shipping.

Mechanisms of Green Shipping Corridors

 A green shipping corridor is characterised by the joint efforts of various stakeholders to significantly reduce or eliminate greenhouse gas emissions along specific maritime routes. The most significant routes are:

  • The Dover Strait or English Channel
  • The Strait of Malacca
  • The Panama Canal
  • The Suez Canal
  • The Danish Straits

These efforts require the deployment of zero-emission ships powered by alternative fuels such as hydrogen, ammonia, or electricity.

These also require the development of supporting infrastructure, including refuelling and charging stations in ports, and the implementation of regulatory frameworks that encourage the transition to zero-emission shipping.

Zero-Emission Vessels

The backbone of green shipping corridors is the utilisation of vessels that do not produce greenhouse gas emissions. These ships are powered by clean energy sources, which are still in various stages of development and scalability. See for example:

  • Battery electric vessels
  • Shoreside electrical power
  • Ships running on low-carbon fuels like hydrogen or ammonia and
  • Wind-assisted ferries

Infrastructure Development

For green shipping corridors to be viable, ports must invest in the infrastructure necessary to support zero-emission vessels. This includes building facilities for refuelling and recharging, as well as retrofitting existing infrastructure to accommodate new technologies.

Regulatory Frameworks

Governments and international bodies must implement policies that promote the adoption of zero-emission technologies. This might include providing financial incentives for clean ships, penalising high-emission vessels, and standardising regulations across countries to facilitate international shipping.

Stakeholder Collaboration

Successful green shipping corridors require the cooperation of a wide range of:

  • Stakeholders,
  • Governments,
  • Port authorities,
  • Shipping companies, and
  • Technology providers.

This collaborative approach ensures that all necessary components are in place and that the transition is smooth and efficient.

The number of green corridor initiatives worldwide went from 21 to 44 over the past year, according to the findings of the 2023 Annual Progress Report on Green Shipping Corridors released by the Global Maritime Forum. Here are some of the newly established and emerging green shipping corridors as of 2024:

USA-UK-Canada-Republic of Korea Corridor

This initiative explores the use of green ethanol and ammonia to power ships along major trade routes. Ongoing feasibility studies are assessing the viability of these alternative fuels for maritime transport (Ocean Panel).

UK-Netherlands-Norway-Denmark Corridor

This corridor, supported by the UK’s Clean Maritime Demonstration Competition, aims to create zero-emission routes connecting the UK with these European countries. The project involves developing infrastructure for green fuels and implementing regulations to facilitate decarbonisation (GOV.UK).

Singapore-Rotterdam Corridor

A collaboration between the ports of Rotterdam and Singapore, this long-distance corridor focuses on using zero or low-emission fuels like green ammonia and methanol. The first green container ship on this route, Laura Maersk, has already started operations, significantly reducing emissions (GreenCitizen).

Australia-Japan Iron-Ore Route

This route is set to become a green corridor using green ammonia. Decarbonising this high-volume iron ore transport route between Australia and Japan would have a substantial environmental impact, involving cooperation among miners, steelmakers, and policymakers (McKinsey & Company).

Global South Green Corridors

Efforts are underway to establish green shipping corridors in Latin America, Africa, and the Pacific. These initiatives aim to make sustainable use of resources in developing countries and support global decarbonisation goals (MarEx).

Pacific Blue Shipping Partnership

Including countries like Fiji, Marshall Islands, Kiribati, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu, this partnership focuses on retrofitting and replacing vessels to support zero-emission shipping within the region (Ocean Panel).

Last April, the UK government announced a £1.5 million initiative to create green shipping routes as part of its efforts to decarbonise the maritime sector. Launched as part of the fifth round of the Clean Maritime Demonstration Challenge (CMDC5), the initiative aims to develop zero-emission shipping routes to and from the UK. Funding will also contribute to the creation of new green shipping corridors by supporting feasibility studies to map the infrastructure required for green fuels and power charging systems along these routes.

The project aims to create zero-emission maritime routes linking the UK to countries such as the Netherlands, Norway, Denmark, and Ireland. This initiative is part of a wider UK government commitment to achieve net zero emissions in the maritime sector and to stimulate economic growth by creating new jobs and opportunities in the green maritime sector. In this way, it is likely that we will see more green shipping corridors in the near future.

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