New Report Highlights Role of Seaports in Growing the Economy and Fighting Climate Change
Halifax, NS: To help fight climate change and seize new economic opportunities in the transition to net-zero emissions by 2050, Canada should harness the transformative power of the maritime sector and begin the transition to low-carbon fuels, a new report says.
Today, Oceans North, Zen Clean Energy Solutions and Ocean Conservancy released Charting a Course for Net Zero: Critical First Steps on a Hydrogen Pathway. The report, based on a series of meetings that took place earlier this year between policymakers, business leaders and other stakeholders, examines the barriers and opportunities for clean hydrogen use in the maritime sector.
“The time for action is now,” says Brent Dancey, the director of marine climate action at Oceans North. “Canada is warming twice as fast as the rest of the world and is a major energy exporter. Our country needs to be at the forefront of energy transition—and the maritime sector is a great place to build demand for low– and zero-emission fuels that will be a critical part of the energy mix closing in on 2050.”
Seaports, which concentrate several energy-intensive activities in one area, are a logical place to pilot the use of hydrogen fuels, according to the report. From cargo handling to tugboats, they offer opportunities to decarbonize a sector that is heavily reliant on fossil fuels and represents a growing share of global emissions. Seaports are also the gateway to global markets that are increasingly looking for clean fuels.
“Ports will play a critical role not only in the decarbonization of the maritime sector, particularly the blue water sector, but also in providing the hub for renewable energy export markets and facilitating the blue economy which will support the technology that will assist the transition to renewable fuels,” says Captain Allan Gray, President and CEO of the Port of Halifax.
“Seaports are unique in that they have the ability to combat climate change through fuel switching of their own heavy-duty equipment while simultaneously supporting global emission reductions by facilitating the export of Canada’s clean energy to other nations,” adds Jeff Grant, Principal at Zen Clean Energy Solutions.
Developing the hydrogen economy could lead to more than 350,000 jobs in Canada and revenue of over $50 billion a year by 2050. For comparison, this is more than half the number of people employed in and half the market value of Canada’s oil and gas industry.
“It’s economically and environmentally imperative that Canada take action on the development and deployment of zero-emission fuels in the maritime sector,” says Trevor Taylor, Oceans North’s vice-president of conservation. “Our country’s ports and maritime sector are crucial to seizing the opportunity and rising to the challenge that climate change represents.”
The report provides a series of recommendations that could help make this a reality, from government support for demonstration projects to regulations on emissions from ports. “A combination of rules and incentives will be key if Canada is to make the most of this opportunity,” Dancey says.
Promising initiatives are already underway. The newly formed Atlantic Hydrogen Alliance, which is bringing together private industry and non-profits to help develop hydrogen on the East Coast, represents an important step towards developing a hub that will demonstrate the viability of hydrogen and help scale up its use. “If we are serious about getting to net-zero, we need to be serious about exploring hydrogen’s potential in the region. Seaports have great potential for scaling up hydrogen supply and demand that can magnify efforts in Atlantic Canada to create a self-sustaining hydrogen economy,” says Alasdair McLean, executive director of the Offshore Energy Research Association. At the global level, Maersk—the world’s largest shipping company—has invested $1.4 billion USD in new ships that can run on zero-emission fuels derived from hydrogen.
“As countries prepare for the upcoming climate summit in Glasgow, we need to be looking at every tool we have to reduce emissions and transition to a net-zero world,” says Dancey.
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Communications Specialist, Oceans North