News 25 Jan, 2023

US Transportation Decarbonization

Emily McCulloch
Emily McCulloch
Head of Claims (Americas)

Earlier this month the Biden Administration released the US National Blueprint for Transportation Decarbonization which sets out a comprehensive strategy to reach net-zero emissions by 2050. According to the Executive Summary, the transportation sector as a whole (land, air and sea) contributes one-third of all greenhouse gas emissions in the US and is therefore the largest contributor. Whilst the maritime sector’s share of current transport emissions according to the report is only 3%, it is considered that a number of approaches are required to achieve significant decarbonization

According to the USCG Maritime Information Exchange 2021, there are 38,000 commercial vessels (tugs, cargo vessels and ferries) that operate in the US coasts and inland waterways. It is estimated that half of US marine carbon emissions come from international shipping (including from bunkers stemmed in the US), 30% from domestic shipping and the remaining 20% from recreational vessels. Given these complexities, the Blueprint anticipates the need for continued cooperation with other governments as well as the IMO whose own decarbonization strategy aims at reaching zero emissions by 2050. 

In summary, the Blueprint sets out the following targets:

· The impact on shipowners/operators:

Supporting the Industry Roadmap for Zero-Emissions Shipping Mission, released in April 2022, which states that by 2030:

(1) at least 5% of the global deep-sea fleet measured by fuel consumption is to be made of ships capable of running on zero-emission fuels (More details on how the 5% target can be reached are available by the Global Maritime Forum),

(2) at least 200 of these ships are to primarily use these fuels across the main deep sea shipping routes and

(3) 10 large trade ports covering at least three continents are to supply zero-emission fuels.

· A need for innovation:

Investments in R&D focusing on, for example:

  • Sustainable liquid and gaseous fuels
  • Electric vessels
  • Energy efficiency and hybridization
  • Renewable energy
  • Exhaust treatment and carbon capture

· A call for all stakeholder collaboration:

Collaboration and regulation within the maritime sector which extends to shipowners, operators, ports, terminals and energy sources along with investment in infrastructure to upgrade and improve facilities.  

The Blueprint is aimed not only at guiding federal agencies in future policy making but also to send a strong message to state governments and the transportation industry across the US. It is thought that more detailed guides will follow.