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Castrol’s Cassandra Higham reveals details of a decarbonisation survey her firm carried out with owners, operators and managers.

Shipping is on a journey towards decarbonisation. The next ten years look set to be some of the most transformative years on record, as the industry adapts to the International Maritime Organisation’s (IMO) target to reduce CO₂ emissions by at least 40% by 2030.

Decarbonisation of the shipping industry is the end goal, but the pathway has several milestones. We passed one of these in January 2020, when the global sulphur cap was implemented.  

A significant share of shipping’s decarbonisation mission will be achieved in the engine room. New low-carbon fuels and more efficient engines are likely to be key contributors to the reduction in emissions. Similar to the sulphur cap, such changes could drive immense technical challenges at a time of acute capital constraint for owners and operators.

We believe that decarbonisation is a puzzle of several parts. That is why, in early 2020, Castrol surveyed 50 high-level individuals including owners, operators and managers, to get a sense of the industry’s understanding of this decarbonisation challenge.

Our questions did not anticipate COVID-19 and the fresh challenges it has created for our sector. Nevertheless, the results are fascinating, and reveal tremendous insight into how leading figures in our sector see the future unfolding.  

Our questions explored three areas: sulphur cap implementation, the integration of alternative fuels, and preparing for decarbonisation. Castrol sees these as the three biggest pieces of the puzzle required to make significant progress in rapidly, and profitably, achieving a zero-carbon future for shipping.