• Green Denmark in Southeast Asia

Event summary: Greening Tomorrow, Today: Partnerships for Zero Carbon Shipping

Updated: Jun 8

On April 22nd, over 100 maritime partners, friends and green champions tuned in as key maritime players from Singapore and Denmark discussed the need for international collaboration between the public and private sector to advance emissions-free shipping. The lively panel discussion covered a range of perspectives on the drivers, barriers, and success factors that could help us pursue maritime decarbonization.


In the following article, we summarize main take-home messages from the event hosted by SGInnovate, the Royal Danish Embassy in Singapore and the Danish Maritime Authority as part of Singapore Maritime Week 2021. You may also access the full recording here.



The line-up of speakers consisted of:

Access the programme and speaker's profile here.


Welcome by CEO of SGInnovate, Dr Lim Jui and opening remarks by H.E Sandra Jensen Landi, Ambassador of Denmark to Singapore


Singapore and Denmark are both strong advocates against climate change and are pioneers of the sustainability movement in our regions. Together, we aim to explore collaborative efforts and learn from each other to champion emission-free shipping and more critically, how we can unlock opportunities for greater international public-private collaboration.


Shipping is responsible for about 80% of the world’s trade volume and currently accounts for 2 to 3% of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Left unattended, this is expected to rise to 10% by 2050. In order to unlock the benefits of decarbonization, a deep understanding of the plays across the maritime value chain and the relevant political boundaries is crucial.


Right now, we note no concrete or easy solutions and thus must remain explorative and close knit in partnership in order to champion this green energy transition efficiently.


"Maritime decarbonization is part of a larger energy discussion. We are looking for ways to transform the way we produce and use energy in all parts of our society. The maritime decarbonization process is more challenging than in other areas, but it presents a unique opportunity. If we can solve decarbonization in the maritime sector, we can solve a lot of challenges at the same time, not least in aviation for example" - HE. Sandra Jensen Landi

Keynote Address by Dan Jørgensen, Denmark's Minister for Climate, Energy and Utilities


Denmark is an international maritime nation and has been one for centuries. We see it as our responsibility to promote international zero carbon shipping, and thus Denmark actively supports the ban of heavy fuel oil together with the International Maritime Organization (IMO).


Working through the IMO is important but we have also facilitated the Getting to Zero Coalition at the UN Climate Action Summit 2019, which consists of more than 150 private sector actors collaborating across sectors and the entire shipping value chain. They are collaborating to develop carbon dioxide neutral and commercially viable vessels by 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality by 2050.


Last year, Denmark initiated the work on a zero-emission shipping mission under the international forum, Mission Innovation. The mission will drive innovation forward across the value chain from fuel production via ports to ships and facilitate closer collaboration between public and private stakeholders.


To meet the lofty goals, Denmark's key priorities in development include, but are not limited to:

  • Technologies to decarbonize shipping, aviation and heavy transport activities

  • Determining and producing alternative green fuels

  • Building and improving infrastructure for scalable zero carbon energy sources in areas of production, distribution, storage and bunkering

  • Producing electricity supplies from renewables to develop green hydrogen for green fuel production investments


Main take-home messages from Maritime and Port Authority Singapore


Maritime Singapore is committed to sustainable international shipping as guided by the targets of the IMO to reduce total annual GHG emissions from international shipping by at least 50% by 2050.


Supported by the Ministry of Port Authority of Singapore (MPA), the Singapore Maritime Foundation has established the International Advisory Panel on Maritime Decarbonization (IAP). MPA is also developing the Maritime Singapore Decarbonization Blueprint 2050 to chart strategies to help the industry achieve the goal of decarbonization.


Upon recommendation by the IAP, the MPA is funding a maritime decarbonization center in Singapore. This center will bring together different stakeholders along the value chain ecosystem with the aim of bridging public-private partnerships to form industry collaborations. Together, these joint industry wide collaboration attempts will aim to bring together stakeholders to catalyze global and commercially feasible ideas for the next 5 to 10 years.


The MPA also has 2 overarching ambitions, as follows, and is working towards achieving it at present:

  1. DigitalOCEANS™: Connectivity between ports so detailed information of a ship's departure or arrival is known. Such would enable the anticipation of port-based services, influence the timing and optimize marine-based operational performance (e.g. quickening or slowing the pace of ships), which aims to increase carbon efficiency.

  2. Data connectivity: Expansions beyond port-to-port connectivity but where detailed goods-to-goods information can be tracked. In essence, this examines the dispatch from factories till the arrival of the good at the consumer's home.


Main take-home messages from Danish Maritime Authority


Denmark has implemented several domestic initiatives, which exist as part of our larger strategy, to meet the carbon neutrality goal in 2050. This includes battery-driven ferries and extensive experimentation of new fuel types. This shift in the maritime sector also concerns technology providers such as engine and equipment manufacturers, who are an essential part of the equation, as they will deliver the solutions that will help pave the way for carbon neutrality.


Digitalization in shipping is a tool to ensure better security, safety and efficiency. However, there is still a long way to go in embracing digital solutions. Digitalization is crucial as it not only plays a role in navigational planning, enables better decision making and in turn, paves the way for efficient operational performance.

Denmark remains confident that with carbon free ships in 2023 and initiatives thereafter, it will see shipping companies in the maritime sector that are much more carbon friendly than as anticipated today.


Main take-home messages from BW Group


There is currently a lot of regulatory and social pressure to decarbonize. We should not think about this only defensively, but also as business opportunities.

New fuels, new policies, and new forms of financing will all be important to make it happen. Decarbonization centres that are being set up in Singapore and Copenhagen and elsewhere can help as nodes that can accelerate collaboration and implementation of solutions

Technology also has a big role to play. One can only manage what one can measure, and today we have the opportunity to put sensors on ships and analyze data to understand fuel consumption, emissions, environmental performance. We have to grasp this opportunity to use machines alongside humans, so that we can tackle decarbonization as effectively as possible.



Main take-home messages from Mærsk Mc-Kinney Møller Centre for Zero Carbon Shipping


The main challenge is to understand the bigger picture and how shipping fits into this new sustainable societal business system. Within this exist specific challenges such as:

  • Determining how to produce energies and fuels, and the technologies that support this process;

  • Deciding how to set up good objectives and defining how good progress is measured;

  • Gaining clarity on (i) regulatory and policy levers and, (ii) social and commercial pressures;

  • Understanding emerging ideas backed by financial investors;

  • Ascertaining how shipping will embrace digitalization and navigating the cultural reluctance that accompanies

It is not about finding the silver bullet but understanding the bigger system in order to move forward. From there, stakeholders must identify risks and development gaps that must be set in motion to de-risk the transition.


Q&A summary


What are the short term business opportunities within the whole decarbonization agenda in the Maritime sector?


Mr. Andreas Sohmen-Pao: There are opportunities across the spectrum of decarbonization. One question people ask is whether this favors the larger companies. It is true that smaller companies may face challenges in access to financing, and we should help them with that. Bigger companies may have better resources to tackle large infrastructure projects, but they also have the challenge of legacy assets.


Examples of opportunities that smaller companies can work on are:

  • Consulting firms to help with carbon accounting

  • Startups can help with new technologies

  • Small craft owners can help to trial new solutions.


Cost is one issue. Another is accountability. We see companies making motherhood statements on ESG issues, but what can the industry do to hold stakeholders accountable to the decarbonization (or indeed, crew welfare) commitments they make?


Mr. Andreas Sohmen-Pao: You have to start by measuring and reporting in robust ways. Sometimes credits and offsets are based on what a party would have done (e.g. would it have cut down the forest, would it have developed the renewable project), and this is difficult to verify. Ultimately, one needs a way of ensuring that there is accountability, and that outcomes are as expected.


Mr. Andreas Nordseth: Transparent and enforceable regulations are needed alongside a specific framework that embodies clarity and provides direction.


Ms. Quah Ley Hoon: Firstly, guidelines are so important. Together with the Global Compact Network and the Singapore Shipping Association, there exists an initiative to help local Singaporean maritime companies develop capabilities in sustainable reporting to include acceptable measures and standards of carbon accounting. Secondly, as financial institutions look to identify green financing opportunities, companies that already possess the natural impetus to want to include carbon reporting in their accounting processes are likely to want to know the criterion for financing considerations. ESG considerations are important. However, if we can tilt the equation to factor in financing, we are likely to progress much faster.


We see several solutions for green fuels, such as low sulfur oil / ammonia / hydrogen / LNG. These solutions can be adapted to existing vessels. The next generation of vessels have freedom of the optimal propulsion and fuel source, which fuel is the one for the future?


Dr. Bo Cerup-Simonsen: Nobody knows because multitudes of fuels are being considered. As scarcity is a problem, these future fuels are likely to be more expensive than fossil fuels. Future fuels must take advantage of the context and synergies that are available for harvest within the region such as the access to biomass. Utilizing existing processes and producing fuels through that is also key. In the longer term, we will be seeing multitudes of fuels emerging and for ships to be built for that type of fuel, multi-fuel capabilities must also be well thought of.


Mr. Andreas Sohmen-Pao: There is no perfect solution today. As an example, people debate about whether LNG is the right solution - some say it is the best transition fuel we have, others say it is not sufficiently low on GHG. Both statements are true. In the end, it is about your philosophy and timing. Do you want to wait for the perfect solution or do what can be done today? Personally, I think we should take all the steps we can to make things better today.


Ms. Quah Ley Hoon: Singapore takes a stand - it may not be perfect but we do it anyway. From a bunkering perspective, for LNG itself, it has taken 8 years and 20 ports before the standards have risen to as we see today and for infrastructure to be readily available and present around the world. If you are talking about ammonia and hydrogen, it will take some years before the ships, port infrastructure for bunkering and the availability of energy source is available. Steps must be taken in order to figure out what other steps may open up along the way. LNG may not be the perfect solution but bio-LNG gives us insights into bioethanol, bio methane and biodiesel amongst others. Multi-fuel is the future but is not a single silver bullet. We must be ready to potentially provide these options to shipping companies for the benefit of the global supply chain. If not, one part of it will be handicapped.


Mr. Andreas Nordseth: It is not black and white on LNG but the concern is retrofitting as it is a huge investment and needs the long term viewpoint. The perspectives of smaller and larger players must be taken into account and common questions concerning the types of fuels to be built in and what fuels should be prepared for the future need an answer. A new series of ships will emerge and owners and investors prepping for this transition with the potential of methanol, ammonia and other types of fuels in consideration.


How will Mærsk Mc-Kinney Møller Centre for Zero Carbon Shipping, Singapore’s new decarbonization centre, and other initiatives go about avoiding overlaps and duplicate efforts?


Ms. Quah Ley Hoon: Recommendations were taken from the IAP when the centre was set up. As there is a common denominator that is globally needed such as safety standards, machine engine specification standards and bunkering standards, players converge here to share information and experience. The best way to help SMEs leapfrog in terms of knowledge pertains to collaborative efforts and contribution on issues that are facing the industry. As the member state level, between Denmark and Singapore, papers are being co-sponsored. If we choose to wait on everyone and concern ourselves with duplication, nothing will progress quickly.


Dr. Bo Cerup-Simonsen: We were born with the mindset of collaboration. We don't have a market for zero carbon shipping yet. However, we will attempt to make this an IP free zone because we're working from the idea of a freely competitive stage. We need to establish confidence and standards of decarbonization and explanation of why its a good investment. We are no where near the stage of investors displaying confidence. We would like to work practically with this through the development of a work program where positions, standards and understanding of risks, barriers and how to achieve decarbonization is concretized. Such would require collaborative efforts with the centre in Singapore. We have to understand how this fits the bigger sustainability agenda and how we are choosing to measure ourselves with relevance to the respective targets.


Aggressive carbon taxing on fossil fuels will accelerate the adoption of zero carbon fuels. But how much should we tax? A few dollars per ton seems insufficient.


Mr. Andreas Sohmen-Pao: If you want a number to bridge the gap in fuel cost today, you may need $300/ton of CO2 emissions to equalize ammonia with oil. This is not going to be achievable. Some major institutions suggest $75/ton of CO2 by 2030. That's also a lot to achieve in one step. But you can start with a smaller amount, even a few dollars is fine to start with. That way you can test the systems before scaling up. It's important not to confuse where we need to be in the long term with what can be done today.


A lot has been said about the need for technology input from other sectors to help solve maritime decarbonization. Any thoughts on where these technologies will come from?


Mr. Andreas Nordseth: Embracing digitalization will not only help secure better safety, security and efficiency, but artificial intelligence will help us make better decisions. The usage of big data in an effective manner will help achieve zero emission shipping as well.


Dr. Bo Cerup-Simonsen: We must also look beyond the shipping industry and into other sectors for inspiration. For instance, this could be fuel cells for trains and automotive, taking and storage systems being built and more.


Ms. Quah Ley Hoon: Nascent types of technologies that are not market ready may potentially be funded if paired with a research institute. If you pair this up with a challenge statement, tie up with a tech provider as well as a big company that is able to provide the necessary equipment, there may be hope of gaining initial financial funding from the government. However, where market ready types of technology are concerned, joint-industry projects will be of use to spur technological advancements. Moreover, there are companies out there that look to be involved and invest because there is this shift to solve maritime decarbonization. We need to do more to pair organizations up to bring together funds, share the risk, profitability and ensure yield is evenly spread. The MPA wishes to bring in the banks and private financing organizations (eg. Temasek) in the near future.






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