The Transport Committee has urged the UK government to change its approach towards backing specific technology solutions to decarbonise the UK’s transport sector, or risk failing its targets for cutting emissions.
The Government has set a number of targets to decarbonise different sections of the transport sector over the next 30 years. But the Department for Transport (DfT), United Kingdom has chosen to take a neutral stance on which technologies it believes industry should focus on developing, in order for those carbon-cutting targets to be achievable.
In its ‘Fuelling the Future’ report, published 2 March, the cross-party Committee makes recommendations on the following modes of transport, whilst also urging the Government to move beyond its “deliberately technology agnostic” mindset, as stated in its 2019 Technology Innovation Strategy.
In July 2019, the Government published its Clean Maritime Plan which committed to achieving zero-emission shipping by 2050. Progress with decarbonising Maritime is likely to be slower than other transport modes due to the wide variety of vessels in use throughout the world’s jurisdictions, meaning it will be challenging to reach an international consensus. And because ships often have a 30-year lifespan, it will take time to phase out vessels with obsolete technology.
The report recommends the Government should support the (IMO) International Maritime Organization work to develop global standards for construction that will enable new ships to utilise alternative fuels such as ammonia and hydrogen.
The UK should also use its influence at the IMO to ensure that, globally, the path forward for investors in alternative maritime fuels becomes more secure.
Ammonia could prove to be another effective alternative as it is zero emission at point of use, requires less storage space than hydrogen, and can be used with existing liquid natural gas infrastructure. Batteries are likely to prove too big, heavy and carbon intensive to produce to make them viable for long-distance freight shipping.