Green shipping corridors gaining momentum (2024)

By Jorn MadslienBusiness reporter, Rotterdam

Green shipping corridors gaining momentum (1)Green shipping corridors gaining momentum (2)Getty Images

Rotterdam's historic Hotel New York building was formerly the headquarters of Dutch shipping firm Holland America Line

The powerful diesel engine roars as the water taxi cuts through the choppy water that connects Rotterdam's gritty port areas to what remains of the city's historic maritime grandeur.

As the yellow speedboat docks in front of the glamorous Hotel New York, the city's global shipping heritage is there for all to see.

The 122-year-old building, one of few to survive the extensive bombing of Rotterdam in World War Two, was originally the headquarters of Dutch shipping company Holland America Line. The firm's name is still adorned on the front of the building in large letters.

Next door, from its headquarters in a skyscraper that vaguely resembles a lighthouse, the Port of Rotterdam Authority is keen to shine a light on the future of shipping rather than look back on its past. More specifically, it is focusing its spotlight on how the sector can continue efforts to reduce it emissions.

As the manager and operator of Europe's largest port, the authority has partnered with its opposite number in Singapore to create one of the world's first new, long-distance green shipping corridors.

The idea behind these corridors is that cargo ships travel along the routes using only zero or low emission fuels. To help make this possible, both Rotterdam and Singapore are building new storage facilities for green fuels, such as ammonia and methanol, as alternatives to fuel oil.

Ammonia is a gas produced by fusing hydrogen with nitrogen. It is called "green ammonia" if the hydrogen is produced using 100% renewable energy. Meanwhile, methanol is a form of alcohol that can also be produced with green energy.

The Port of Rotterdam's interim chief executive, Boudewijn Siemons, says the link-up between the Dutch city and Singapore aims to show how the concept can practically work.

"It's a pragmatic approach to carbon reduction in shipping," he says. "We have to get started somewhere, and you cannot get started by implementing zero emission shipping as a total solution everywhere in the world.

"That's why we're seeking these green corridors as proof points on a limited scale. We then have to scale up from there."

In September of this year, the first container ship sailed between Singapore and Rotterdam in this green way. Called the Laura Maersk, it was powered by methanol, which currently delivers an up to 65% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions compared to burning fossil fuels.

Green shipping corridors gaining momentum (3)Green shipping corridors gaining momentum (4)Getty Images

The Laura Maersk went from Asia to Europe in September, powered by methanol

The green corridors concept was born at COP26, the global environment summit held in Glasgow, Scotland in 2021. Called the Clydebank Declaration, and agreed by 22 countries including the UK, it included a commitment to create at least six corridors by the middle of this decade.

This month's COP28 in the United Arab Emirates saw the announcement of new corridors, including one from Canada's west coast to Korea and Japan, one in the Caribbean, and another between Houston in the US and Belgium's Antwerp.

It followed a pledge by the International Maritime Organisation, which represents the shipping industry, that the sector will achieve net-zero emissions "by or around" 2050.

While ports such as Rotterdam are continuing to prepare for the switch to zero emission shipping, it is clear that ship builders face an equally big challenge.

Industry figures show that just 0.6% of cargo ships around the world run on alternative fuels, and only 15 to 16% of vessels currently on order will run on dual or alternative fuels.

Yet there is some high-profile demand for more green shipping, such as from online shopping giant Amazon. The firm, a founding member of the Zero-Emission Maritime Buyers Alliance, along with other companies such as furniture group Ikea and clothing firm Patagonia, recently renewed a reduced emissions contract with shipping giant Maersk.

Meanwhile, cargo firm North Sea Container Line is launching a ship powered by ammonia, which will operate between Norway and Germany. And Hoegh Autoliners, which specialises in transporting cars and trains, is building 12 new ammonia-ready ships.

Lynn Loo is the chief executive of the Global Centre for Maritime Decarbonisation, a body that promotes the move to green fuels in the industry. She forecasts that ammonia production could double or even treble by 2050.

Ms Loo says there needs to be "a dramatic rise in the number of vessels capable of transporting ammonia from the 200 that are on the water today". She adds that there also needs to be "significant infrastructure buildout to support the much higher throughput of ammonia in the future".

Green shipping corridors gaining momentum (5)Green shipping corridors gaining momentum (6)Lynn Loo

Lynn Loo is predicting a big rise in the number of ships powered by ammonia

"None of these are going to be easy to scale," observes Edward Glossop, head of sustainable operations at Bunker Holding, the world's largest supplier of marine fuels.

"But ammonia may be the least challenging. The first ammonia engines will be delivered to shipyards by the end of 2024, and we aim to be a commercial supplier of low emission ammonia within the next few years."

However, there are currently no plans to enforce green shipping lanes and some who watch the industry doubt whether they will prove popular.

"We know the future fuels will be expensive," says veteran maritime economist Martin Stopford. "You're attempting to implement change that'll make people poorer, so it'll be unpopular."

He adds that even if production of clean fuels does take off, the maritime industry will be up against sectors such as manufacturing, domestic heating, road transportation aviation all competing for supplies.

"There is going to be some very big heavyweights in the queue ahead of shipping," says Mr Stopford.

Green shipping corridors gaining momentum (7)Green shipping corridors gaining momentum (8)

Green shipping corridors gaining momentum (9)Green shipping corridors gaining momentum (10)

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Green shipping corridors gaining momentum (11)Green shipping corridors gaining momentum (12)

Mr Siemons acknowledges that the process of decarbonising shipping "is both complex and expensive".

"But we should not predict the future based on the state of the technologies today, and on the state of the markets today," he reasons.

"Yes today fuel oil is cheaper than hydrogen or ammonia, but that doesn't mean it has to be so in the future."

Out on the water in front of his building, even Rotterdam's yellow water taxis are joining in the green transition. As far back as 2016, Europe's first electric-powered water taxi entered service here, and last year a hydrogen-powered one also took to the water.

"It all has to become renewable," Mr Siemons concludes.

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As a seasoned expert in the field of sustainable shipping and maritime industry innovations, it's evident that the global push for decarbonization is rapidly reshaping the way we perceive and operate within the shipping sector. Now, let's delve into the concepts presented in the provided article:

  1. Green Shipping Corridors:

    • Definition: These are designated routes where cargo ships use only zero or low-emission fuels. The goal is to reduce the environmental impact of shipping.
    • Evidence: The partnership between the Port of Rotterdam Authority and Singapore to create a new, long-distance green shipping corridor is highlighted. The first container ship, Laura Maersk, sailed between Singapore and Rotterdam using methanol, showcasing a substantial reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.
  2. Green Fuels - Ammonia and Methanol:

    • Ammonia: A gas produced by combining hydrogen with nitrogen. When the hydrogen is derived from 100% renewable energy, it is termed "green ammonia."
    • Methanol: A form of alcohol that can be produced with green energy.
    • Evidence: Both Rotterdam and Singapore are building new storage facilities for green fuels, including ammonia and methanol, to support the concept of green shipping corridors.
  3. COP26 and the Clydebank Declaration:

    • COP26: The global environment summit held in Glasgow in 2021.
    • Clydebank Declaration: A commitment made by 22 countries, including the UK, at COP26 to create at least six green shipping corridors by the mid-2020s.
    • Evidence: The article references the Clydebank Declaration and the commitment to establish green shipping corridors.
  4. International Maritime Organisation (IMO) Commitment:

    • Commitment: The IMO, representing the shipping industry, pledged that the sector will achieve net-zero emissions "by or around" 2050.
    • Evidence: The article mentions the IMO's commitment and the subsequent announcement of new corridors at COP28 in the United Arab Emirates.
  5. Challenges in the Maritime Industry:

    • Low Adoption of Alternative Fuels: Only 0.6% of cargo ships globally run on alternative fuels, and a small percentage of vessels on order will use dual or alternative fuels.
    • High-Profile Demand: Companies like Amazon, part of the Zero-Emission Maritime Buyers Alliance, express interest in green shipping.
    • Challenges for Ship Builders: The need for a significant increase in vessels capable of transporting green fuels.
    • Evidence: Industry figures and examples of companies adopting green shipping practices, such as Amazon and North Sea Container Line.
  6. Ammonia-Powered Ships:

    • Example: North Sea Container Line is launching a ship powered by ammonia, operating between Norway and Germany.
    • Infrastructure Needs: Forecasts by experts, including Lynn Loo, CEO of the Global Centre for Maritime Decarbonisation, emphasize the need for infrastructure to support increased ammonia production.
  7. Obstacles and Skepticism:

    • Resistance to Change: Some experts, like maritime economist Martin Stopford, express skepticism about the popularity of future fuels due to expected high costs.
    • Competition for Clean Fuels: The maritime industry faces competition from other sectors like manufacturing, domestic heating, road transportation, and aviation for clean fuel supplies.
    • Evidence: Insights from industry experts like Martin Stopford and Boudewijn Siemons on the challenges and complexities of decarbonizing shipping.

In conclusion, the article provides a comprehensive overview of the ongoing efforts and challenges in the maritime industry's transition towards sustainable and green shipping practices. The concepts discussed highlight the importance of international collaboration, technological innovation, and infrastructure development to achieve a carbon-neutral future in the shipping sector.

Green shipping corridors gaining momentum (2024)


What are the benefits of green shipping corridors? ›

These include crucial environmental benefits such as increased biodiversity and a cleaner marine environment, as well as economic savings from reduced running costs and shorter anchorage times. These benefits can be achieved by using technology and automation.

What are green freight corridors? ›

Green shipping corridors, which showcase zero-emission fuels and technologies along maritime trade routes between two (or more) ports, can help accelerate adoption of alternatives to petroleum-based fuels in the maritime industry, which in turn can reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

What is the declaration for green shipping corridors? ›

In November 2021 at the Conference of the Parties in Glasgow, 21 countries signed the Clydebank Declaration, signalling their intent to promote the development of green shipping corridors – specific shipping routes where the feasibility of zero-emission shipping is catalysed by a combination of public and private ...

What is the Clydebank Declaration for Green Shipping Corridors? ›

The signatories of this Declaration assert the need for the formation of an international coalition between ambitious governments, to act together and demonstrate that maritime decarbonisation is possible while unlocking new business opportunities and socioeconomic benefits for communities across the globe.

What are the benefits and advantages of green infrastructure? ›

Green infrastructure reduces and treats stormwater at its source while delivering other environmental, social, and economic benefits. Introducing green infrastructure to supplement the existing gray infrastructure can promote urban livability and add to communities' bottom line.

Why are transportation corridors important to the development of industry? ›

Introduction. Economic corridors are meant to attract investment and generate economic activities within a contiguous region, on the foundation of an efficient transportation system. They are meant to provide two important inputs for competitiveness: lower distribution costs and high-quality real estate.

What are the different types of green corridors? ›

There are many examples of different types of corridors around the world, built for distinct purposes, for example:
  • Ornamental green corridor. ...
  • Mobility corridor. ...
  • Water management corridor. ...
  • A holistic approach.

What are the three types of transportation corridors? ›

Transportation corridors include light and heavy rail, streetcars, and bus rapid transit. They form critical armatures for growth in 21th Century American cities, such as Charlotte.

What is the green transport strategy? ›

Consider alternative transportation modes, such as rail or waterways, for long-distance shipments. Compared to road transportation, these modes have lower carbon emissions per ton of freight. Shifting to more sustainable modes of transportation reduces the overall environmental impact of your supply chain.

What is the US maritime decarbonization strategy? ›

The U.S. Maritime Decarbonization Action Plan is part of the "transitioning to clean” strategy and will outline how the federal government seeks to accelerate the clean transition in maritime through the deployment of zero-emission fuels, technologies, energies, and vessels.

What are the US announcements under the green shipping challenge at cop27? ›

The United States and its partners in the Zero-Emission Shipping Mission are announcing the launch of a Green Shipping Corridor Hub, an online platform with resources and tools that aim to streamline the formation and deployment of green shipping corridors globally.

What is the getting to zero coalition? ›

The Getting to Zero Coalition is an industry-led platform for collaboration that brings together leading stakeholders from across the maritime- and fuels value chains with the financial sector and others committed to making commercially viable zero-emission vessels a scalable reality by 2030, towards full ...

What is the Clydebank Declaration? ›

The Clydebank Declaration aims to create green shipping corridors, free of greenhouse gas emissions, between two or more ports around the world. (

What is the Clydebank declaration related to? ›

What is Clydebank Declaration? The signatories of the Clydebank Declaration will establish zero – emission maritime routes between two or more routes. These routes are called green shipping corridors. The objective is to establish six green corridors by the middle of the decade, that is by 2025.

Who are the members of the Clydebank Declaration? ›

Signatories to the Clydebank Declaration include Australia, Belgium, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Denmark, Fiji, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Morocco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Spain, Sweden, the UK and the US.

What is green shipping coverage? ›

Damage: Green Shipping Protection covers item damages to the point that the item(s) are unusable, clearly fractured, shattered, bent (if not bendable), crushed, etc., but does not cover cosmetic damage (scratches, dents, etc.), manufacturing damages, packaging errors, or unsealed items.

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