A coalition of 19 countries including Britain and the United States on Wednesday agreed to create zero emissions shipping trade routes between ports to speed up the decarbonization of the global maritime industry, officials involved said.

Shipping, which transports about 90% of world trade, accounts for nearly 3% of the world's CO2 emissions.

U.N. shipping agency the International Maritime Organization (IMO) has said it aims to reduce overall greenhouse gas emissions from ships by 50% from 2008 levels by 2050. The goal is not aligned with the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change and the sector is under pressure to be more ambitious.

The signatory countries involved in the 'Clydebank Declaration', which was launched at the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow, agreed to support the establishment of at least six green corridors by 2025, which will require developing supplies of zero emissions fuels, the infrastructure required for decarbonization and regulatory frameworks.

"It is our aspiration to see many more corridors in operation by 2030," their mission statement said.

Britain's maritime minister Robert Courts said countries alone would not be able to decarbonize shipping routes without the commitment of private and non-governmental sectors.

"The UK and indeed many of the countries, companies and NGOs here today believe zero emissions international shipping is possible by 2050," Courts said at the launch.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said the declaration was "a big step forward for green shipping corridors and collective action".

Buttigieg added that the United States was "pressing for the IMO to adopt a goal of zero emissions for international shipping by 2050".

The IMO’s Secretary General Kitack Lim said on Saturday "we must upgrade our ambition, keeping up with the latest developments in the global community".

Industry needs regulatory help
Jan Dieleman, president of ocean transportation with agri business giant Cargill, one of the world's biggest ship charterers, said "the real challenge is to turn any statements (at COP26) into something meaningful".

"The majority of the industry has accepted we need to decarbonize," he told Reuters.

"Industry leadership needs to be followed up with global regulation and policies to ensure industry-wide transformation. We will not succeed without global regulation."

Christian Ingerslev, chief executive of Maersk Tankers, which has over 210 oil products tankers under commercial management, said it had spent over $30 million over the last three years to bring their carbon emissions down through digital solutions.

"We need governments to not only back the regulatory push but also to help create the zero emissions fuels at scale," he said.

"The only way this is going to work is to set a market-based measure through a carbon tax."

Other signatory countries are Australia, Belgium, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Denmark, Fiji, Finland, France, Germany, Republic of Ireland, Japan, Marshall Islands, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway and Sweden.

The Greenpeace protesters who suspended themselves from Houston's Fred Hartman Bridge in order to block the Houston Ship Channel have agreed to settle state criminal charges against them, paying the full financial cost of the emergency response to the event.

On September 12, 2019, activists rappelled down from the rail of the bridge in order to block the passage of tankers on the nation's busiest petroleum thoroughfare. They had hoped to stay for 24 hours, all the way through the Democratic presidential debate held in Houston that night. However, the local sheriff's department intervened, lowering down deputies from the bridge deck to arrest the protesters in midair.

Using the state's newly-enacted Critical Infrastructure Protection Act, which had just entered into effect 11 days earlier, the Harris County District Attorney’s Office attempted to indict 31 protesters on felony charges of "disrupting critical energy infrastructure." A grand jury turned down all 31 felony indictments, but allowed 25 misdemeanor charges of obstruction of a roadway to proceed to a trial. 

Those misdemeanor indictments were all resolved last week through a negotiated settlement, and the charges will be dismissed within six months. The protesters have agreed to pay $250 each in court costs, and Greenpeace will reimburse local first responders about $58,000 for the cost of making the arrests.

22 of the activists still face federal charges of obstruction of navigable waters. Talks on settling those charges are under way, Greenpeace told Reuters. 

Speaking as President of the California Association of Port Authorities (CAPA), Port of Oakland Executive Director Danny Wan requested state help on Wednesday to ease a U.S. supply chain crisis, according to the company's release. He called for increased collaboration and solutions from all levels of government as containerized cargo continues to back up at California ports. Inaction could result in freight migration – and job loss – to other states, CAPA President, Danny Wan warned.

Mr. Wan recommended everything from a state-funded supply chain investment fund to land dedicated to cargo container storage. His request came as scores of ships daily wait to berth at Southern California ports and cargo languishes on docks. The months-long supply chain crisis is blamed for consumer good shortages and a spike in U.S. inflation.

According to Mr. Wan, California ports have handled record cargo volumes in the past two years due to skyrocketing consumer purchasing during the pandemic that continues. The result has been a widespread supply-chain challenge not only for the U.S., but globally as well.

Government assistance at all levels is needed to further ease supply chain congestion, Mr. Wan urged legislators. More federal port funding must go to California, he said. Mr. Wan added that West Coast ports were under funded by comparison relative to their degree of national economic importance and jobs generation.

According to CAPA, more than 1 million California jobs and 3 million jobs nationally are linked to trade through CAPA member ports. California port activities generate an estimated $9 billion in state and local tax revenue annually.

In addition to funding, here’s what else the Port of Oakland Executive Director asked for:
 Training centers throughout the state to develop a stronger supply chain workforce;
 Creation of a California freight policy that can authorize emergency action in times of cargo congestion; and
 Long-term state and federal infrastructure investment at ports.

About the Port of Oakland

The Port of Oakland oversees the Oakland Seaport, Oakland International Airport, and nearly 20 miles of waterfront including Jack London Square. The Port's 5-year strategic plan - Growth with Care - pairs business expansion with community benefits, envisioning more jobs and economic stimulus as the Port grows. Together with its business partners, the Port supports more than 84,000 jobs.

After a tumultuous year that saw the Suez Canal blocked by a large container ship and then a fight to recover fees before releasing the Ever Given, the Suez Canal Authority has now announced plans to implement a rate increase for nearly all vessels using the canal in 2022. The announcement of the increase in fees comes as the canal has been experiencing record traffic.

Rates for vessels transiting the canal will be increased by six percent beginning in February 2022. While the canal has benefitted dramatically from the increase in shipping volumes and the transit of new larger vessels, it has nonetheless also found itself facing increasing competition. During the spring blockage shipping lines elected to send some of their vessels around Africa while Russia heavily promoted the advantages of its North Sea Route. The Panama Canal has also been seeking to increase traffic offering increasing the competition with its tolls.

Admiral Osama Rabea, Chairman of the Suez Canal Authority, said in considering the rate increases they carefully followed and scrutinized all the variables related to the shipping market, global economic indicators, and global trade movement. He said that they seek to apply a balanced and flexible marketing and pricing strategy that fulfills the authority and its clients’ interests and takes into account the global economic conditions. The rate hike was balanced with International Monitory Fund and World Trade organization projections for global economic growth while allowing them to provide navigational services for transiting through the canal. He also compared their services to other competitive routes.

The Canal Authority, however, said that it would exempt both LNG carriers and cruise ships from the increase in tariffs. The canal has seen a continuous seaborne trade for LNG but it is a very competitive market. During October, 84 LNG carriers transited the canal up from 46 the prior year with an 87 percent increase in tonnage. Going forward, the Authority is modifying rates for LNG carriers from 25 percent to 15 percent starting this month. 

Cruise ships, they said, had been the most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, and the efforts are designed to support a restoration of the traffic. Similarly, the Panama Canal Authority is also considering proposals to adjust the rates for cruise ships to also support their return.

The decision to raise the tariffs came after the Suez Canal set a new record for transits during October. The number of ships was up 14 percent year-over-year with a total of 1,847 transits. Net tonnage was up more than 11 percent to 112.1 million tons contributing to a 12 percent increase in revenues to over $551.1 million. 

The Suez Canal recorded its highest ever daily transits on September 29, 2021. A total of 87 vessels made the passage totaling 4.8 million net tons. During the day, a total of 49 vessels were northbound while 38 made the southbound transit.

During the first ten months of 2021, the Canal saw a nearly nine percent increase in tonnage. A total of 17,020 ships made the trip versus 1,380 in the first 10 months of 2020. 

The Authority is forecasting continued strong volumes in the coming year and says that it is prepared to manage the traffic. It is also continuing efforts to upgrade its operations and enhance the services of the canal.

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