Trailblazing on decarbonization in the Philippines

September 14, 2022

An inherent part of the efforts of the Philippine Association of Coastal and Inland Water Ferries Inc. in promoting modern and efficient water transport systems is the use of the latest technology to reduce pollution in both atmosphere and marine environment.

As much as possible, PACIWFI wants to contribute, however, limited, in cutting down the share of shipping’s emission of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas released by burning fossil fuels, that drives climate change, or global warming. This so-called global warming is what causes extreme weather conditions like super typhoons and unprecedented rainfall levels, among other severe weather phenomena.

Shipping produces about 2.9 percent of the world’s man-made emissions of CO2, according to a report by the International Maritime Organization in 2020, yet shipping is the most efficient mode of transport system that services about 80 percent of the world’s trade.

The IMO had already set an ambition to reduce GHG emissions from shipping by at least 50 percent by 2050, with a stretch target of a 100 percent reduction by the same deadline. In other words, ships will have to reduce their output of CO2 by 85 percent per nautical mile to take account of the increasing numbers of ships, and more activity over the coming years.

Perspectives regarding decarbonization are evolving and creating opportunities that were not available a few years ago. Social pressure to reduce emissions is intensifying, and technologies are continually evolving to lower emissions. It’s a tough challenge for the maritime industry, and to achieve this, the shipping industry needs to unite in taking urgent action.

Thus, PACIWFI, through its member ferry owners and operators, primarily, Metro Ferry of Cebu, is now embarking on new a paradigm through practical solutions that can accelerate decarbonization, the use of energy-efficient technology for the propulsion system for coastal and inland ferry boats.

In our desire to implement this solution, PACIWFI joins the Philippine Energy Efficiency Alliance, a nonstock, nonprofit organization of energy efficiency market stakeholders, to help the country effectively achieve its energy efficiency and conservation road map targets, accelerate the decarbonization of the economy through low-carbon energy use, create green jobs, slow the rise in energy prices, generate energy end-use savings across sectors, and reduce dependence on imported energy.

Making this happen requires collaboration within the shipping industry itself, across the broader shipping ecosystem, and with other sectors, like the energy and technological/academe sectors.

PACIWFI is now aggressively pursuing new technologies for the propulsion systems of its member ferries. We are now in the process of finalizing the vessel designs in collaboration with the Global Maritime Consultants Group, a provider of expert technical, legal, training and management consultancy for the shipping and offshore sectors.

GMCG is now completing the design for an electric propulsion system and solar-powered solutions for the modernization program of Metro Ferry of Cebu.

We are also currently in discussion with Danfoss Engineering, a Danish multinational company that provides advanced energy-efficient technologies, for the supply of the electric propulsion system.

However, it is also our belief that a proactive and determined partnership between stakeholders in the maritime industry and regulators is vital in driving accelerated decarbonization of marine transportation. If we may propose, regulators may set targets, urge action, support experimentation, and use their regulatory powers and persuasion to support the most promising innovations.

In fact, we at PACIWFI are inspired upon learning that the Maritime Industry Authority will also promote the use of electric ferries for the Pasig River transport system with its initiative in having a competition for the design of electric-powered ferries.

Knowing where we want to go and how to get there are crucial in achieving our objectives and it is also a challenge, but we need to convert our ideas on protecting our marine environment into practical solutions in order for us to act and realize the positive impact to shipping of such initiative as decarbonization.


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