2015 was a tumultuous year for the marine industry. Environmental regulations and oil price changes caused a lot of uncertainty. There were some key challenges, leading to important innovations as well. What have some of those changes been?
The key challenge is the environment. At the 2015 COP21 conference, leaders discussed climate changed and agreed on a 1.5-degree global ceiling for climate change. The marine industry is the most carbon-efficient of all transportation methods, but it is so large that it emits in excess of 1,000 million tons of CO2 every year. It also causes 2.2% of all greenhouse gas emissions the world over, meaning that the industry must be involved in fighting climate change as well.
The COP21 did not set targets specific for the shipping industry. However, the IMO regulations by the United Nations and the MRV Framework developed by the EU do mandate relevant laws. Additionally, companies like Martek Marine are committed to coming up with ways to develop tools for the industry that have a lower environmental impact. A type of partnership with the different stakeholders has started.
The environment is critical, but the economy has had an equally significant impact. Fitch, a rating agency, rates the financial outlook for the industry as negative for 2016. It was stable in 2014. There is a forecasted growth of between 3% and 3.5% per year to 2025, but this is not enough to be sustainable. The greatest vulnerability lies in the offshore industry. We know that when you combine new technology with metals, the possibilities are endless, and this includes a reduction in offshore drilling. The perfect storm, however, has been created through corruption scandals and volatile oil prices.
Innovations Make the Marine Environment Cleaner
It is vital that every stakeholder in the marine industry comes together to create tools, system, machinery, and ways of working that leads to emission reductions. On January 1, 2016, stricter regulations for diesel engines were implemented all over the world, which has had a significant impact. Meanwhile, President Trump has recently withdrawn from the Paris Climate Change Accord, which has thrown everything up in the air again. However, the marine industry is global and committed to improving its ways of working, with or without support from the US president.
One area of interest is the digital revolution. Shipbuilders now put technology at the forefront of their design, ensuring it is fully optimized from the word go. Digital tools will make ships more productive, more efficient, and greener. Fuel efficiency should improve tremendously, which is a great cost-saving measure as well.
2016 Brought Opportunities and 2017 Will Do the Same
Although Fitch gave the industry a negative rating, 2016 di provide fantastic opportunities, and 2017 will build on that, including cleaner hybrid energy solutions and other efficiency measures. Work has become far more cost-effective, greener, and leaner. In fact, many believe that, in years to come, people will look back on 2016 and see it as a defining year for the industry as a whole.
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