Report: Green Shipping Corridor Initiatives Doubled in 2023
Green shipping corridors are emerging as one of the promising approaches to accelerate climate action in shipping. At the ongoing COP28 Climate Summit in Dubai, this initiative has received yet another major backing, with the U.S., Denmark, and the Maersk Mc-Kinney Moller Center pledging to join forces to establish Global South Green Corridors.
The announcement of the plans for the latest green corridor initiative coincided with the release of the 2023 Annual Progress Report on Green Shipping Corridor, prepared by the Global Maritime Forum on behalf of Getting to Zero Coalition. The report reveals that the number of green corridor initiatives around the world doubled in the last year from 21 to 44. It goes on to project that 2024 will prove pivotal for green corridors, buoyed by increased governmental efforts to establish these routes as well as sustained industry and port efforts.
“It is, of course, encouraging to see the emergence of so many new green corridor initiatives and the increased maturity of existing green corridors, but the other side of this maturation has seen the unearthing of a new set of challenges as the corridors move closer to implementation,” said Jesse Fahnestock, the Global Maritime Forum’s project director for decarbonization.
Currently, the majority of the plans for green corridors are focused on ports in the global north. However, the new project aims to incorporate for the first time developing countries. As part of the plan that was announced, the project will conduct pre-feasibility studies in Namibia, Panama, and Fiji, and two more countries to be announced soon.
“We are facing a global transition that needs to be inclusive, just, and equitable to be truly sustainable: from East to West and from South to North. This is why we are excited to partner with U.S. and Danish governments to establish the Global South Green Corridors with countries in Latin America, Africa, and the Pacific,” said Bo Cerup-Simonsen, CEO of Maersk McKinney-Moller Center for Zero Carbon Shipping.
Denmark’s Minister of Industry, Business and Financial Affairs, Morten Bødskov, commented, “We need to transition containerships to new fuels, and this can only happen through collaboration between countries worldwide and maritime companies. This partnership is a prime example of how we should drive the green transition at sea."
Similarly, Anne Steffensen, CEO of the trade group Danish Shipping said, “The Global South Green Corridors project is a brilliant idea that will assist countries in the Global South in making sustainable use of their resources and in making a vital contribution to achieving the goal of climate neutral shipping. That’s a win-win for everybody.”
The Annual Progress Report on Green Shipping Corridor however highlights some of the challenges facing the implementation of green corridors. The report identifies the need to make key fuel decisions. Determining the priority fuel they conclude is a key consideration in the execution of green corridors. However, the maritime industry they note is yet to settle on the next future green shipping fuel, something which is impacting the planning of green corridors.
Additionally, mobilizing customer demand for the green corridors remains low. Currently, only five initiatives are incorporating cargo owners. The underlying assumption for most cargo owners is that there will be additional costs associated with green shipping, and without a level playing field established through global or regional policies, first-movers the report says are poised to bear most of the risks.
Despite the challenges, the report concludes that encouragingly, government support for green corridors is rising. They note two years after the concept was adopted at the COP26 conference 18 governments are now directly involved in the initiatives.
Several of the projects have also announced completing key planning steps toward the launch of the first corridors. The initiatives have focused on key ports such as Singapore, Rotterdam, Shanghai, and Los Angeles, or regional such as the Pacific Northwest/Alaska, or the Baltic, but with the latest announcement confidence is growing that support will be provided for developing countries which might otherwise be left behind in the efforts.