A robust NGO sector is key to shaping the energy transition in the maritime sector, bringing in the voices of civil society, academia and other stakeholders outside government and the private sector. There are many good examples of progressive NGOs looking to engage positively with the maritime industry on the basis of sound science. Organisations that have as their stated negative goal “to urge policymakers, industry stakeholders, and financial institutions to urgently rule LNG out of any shipping decarbonization scenario”, while offering no viable alternatives have no place in a responsible dialogue.
Say No to LNG (SNtL) bases its campaign on a false contention, suggesting the industry is hiding the issue of methane emissions. SNtL states “What they don’t tell you is that LNG replaces CO2 emissions with methane emissions….” when the opposite is true. The industry has been open about methane emissions, recognising it is an issue which needs to be addressed with urgency and has undertaken publicly available, peer-reviewed GHG emissions analysis on primary data from all major marine engine manufacturers. Levels of methane slip have been reduced by a factor of four since LNG-fuelled engines were introduced in the early 2000s and today, the LNG-fuelled vessel order book is dominated by engine technologies with low, or negligible levels of methane slip. The industry is engaged in projects to measure operational methane emissions from a variety of vessel and engine types. In September 2022, it launched an initiative, the Methane Abatement in Maritime Innovation Initiative (MAMII), to monitor, measure and abate methane emissions in the maritime supply chain.
SNtL brings no new evidence to the table, simply rehashing existing flawed analysis, based on old technologies and unrealistic assumptions, cherry-picking data and stating facts out of context. For our responses to the reports cited by SNtL please see the following links UCL, ICCT and the World Bank.
To align with the Paris Agreement’s legally binding treaty to keep global warming below 1.5 degrees C, shipping needs a basket of fuels as well as operational and technical efficiency measures. These fuels must be evaluated on a like-for-like scientific basis so that the industry can make properly informed decisions. LNG, is a step in the right direction as it provides immediate reductions in GHG emissions, including methane, of up to 23% on a full, lifecycle (or Well-to-Wake) basis and it offers a low-cost, low-risk incremental pathway to decarbonisation via bio-LNG and renewable synthetic LNG (e-LNG). In addition it virtually eliminates harmful local emissions, such as SOX and NOX.
Narratives promoted by organisations like SNtL risk delaying the investments needed to decarbonise the shipping industry. Rather than disparaging the considerable efforts that first-movers have made in initiating the first transformation in maritime propulsion since the move from coal to oil, perhaps they could reflect on how they could constructively work with the industry to address the numerous common challenges the introduction of these new fuels face.