Getting to Zero Coalition Identifies Prime "Green Corridor" Routes

shanghai yangshan container port
The Yangshan complex at Port of Shanghai, the world's busiest container port. The report identified the core Asia-Europe container trade lane as a high-priority "green corridor" option. (Marqueed / CC BY 3.0)

Published Nov 12, 2021 2:57 PM by The Maritime Executive

The creation of green corridors offers the best opportunity to accelerate progress in tackling challenges of decarbonizing the shipping industry, a new report suggests.

A day after an alliance of 22 nations signed a declaration committing to create zero-emissions shipping green corridors, a new report by the Getting to Zero Coalition reckons that green corridors provide sufficient scale and volume for impact. This is because they are large enough to include all the essential value-chain actors, including fuel producers, vessel operators, cargo owners and regulatory authorities.

Green corridors also provide offtake certainty to fuel producers, allowing for additional scaling of zero-emission fuel production concentrated in one location. They can also create demand signals to vessel operators, shipyards and engine manufacturers to scale up investments in zero-emission shipping.

A green corridor is defined as a shipping route between two major port hubs on which the technological, economic and regulatory feasibility of zero-emissions ships is accelerated by public and private action. The report suggests that collaboration, a viable fuel pathway, customer demand and regulation are the four critical ingredients.

The report identifies 10 primary shipping corridors that have a high potential for policymaker action. Among them is the Australia-Japan iron ore route, which has a number of advantages that could support the development of a green corridor. The route offers a promising zero-emission fuel pathway owing to favorable production conditions and significant announced green hydrogen capacity. Australian companies have announced plans to build 29 GW of hydrogen electrolysis capacity by 2030.

The Asia-Europe container route, which currently generates more greenhouse gas emissions than any other single global trading lane, also presents a promising option for developing a green corridor. The pipeline of announced green hydrogen projects along the route amounts to 62 GW of electrolyzer capacity in Europe, the Middle East, and Australia (for bunkering in Asia), and this is likely to be more than sufficient. There is growing demand for decarbonization throughout the value chain on this route, from end consumers to freight forwarders and shipping lines, and the characteristics of the freight could allow participants to share costs without a significant increase in retail prices. 

The report comes after an alliance of top maritime nations - including the U.S., United Kingdom, Japan and Australia - signed a declaration to establish green shipping corridors in order to accelerate decarbonization of the industry. In the "Clydebank Declaration," the countries committed to support the establishment of at least six green corridors by the middle of this decade while aiming to scale activity up in the following years. Notably, Asian maritime giants like China, India, Vietnam and Indonesia are not signatories to the agreement.

The shipping industry, which is responsible for approximately 80 per cent of global trade, accounts for about three per cent of total global CO2 emissions. The Getting to Zero Coalition identified several practical methods to keep this percentage in check, including demand management (curtailed traffic volume) and optimized logistics. Improving vessels’ energy efficiency by upgrading ship design and propulsion systems could also reduce per-tonne-mile emissions intensity between 15 and 55 per cent.

Top image: Shanghai Yangshan (Marqueed / CC BY 3.0)