Momentous shift: Maersk's decision to look away from LNG as a lower-carbon alternative could usher in a definitive shift for merchant shipping and open new doors for biofuels | Photo:

Maersk’s new ships to stop burning fossil fuels

Shipping giant APM-Maersk announced that its newly constructed ships will no longer run on only fossil fuels, and instead “have to be able to” run on lower carbon alternatives, such as bio-methanol, cooking oils and ammonia. The firm’s CEO categorically stated that “we don’t need another fossil fuel”, which is a departure from other shipping lines that are moving to LNG to lower their emissions.  While the cost and adequate supply of Maersk’s chosen alternatives will likely be a concern, it has calculated that even at double the costs, switching to cleaner fuels will raise prices of its common consignments, such as TVs, by only up to $1. 

Maersk’s decision is based on its relationship with its clients, around 100 of which are targeting net zero carbon emissions for their supply chains by 2050, and could be a decisive shift for the industry as a whole as the firm is the world’s leading shipping line with a market share of 17%

BlackRock: Oil and gas firms must declare emissions or face divestment 

The world’s largest asset manager and investor, BlackRock Inc., stated that the oil and gas firms it is invested in must disclose and lower their carbon emissions from their Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions, and also endeavour to cut emissions from the use of the products (Scope 3 emissions). BlackRock’s exposure to oil at the end of September 2020 stood at $90 billion, but Sandy Boss, its global head of investment stewardship, has clearly acknowledged that BlackRock was keen to engage with the largest companies on their climate action policies, since it intends to stay with them over the long term. 

BlackRock’s global assets portfolio tops $8.7 trillion and its influence as a shareholder in some of the largest drilling firms will likely mount additional pressure on them to be more transparent on their plans to lower emissions. This is apart from the pressure exerted on them by activist groups such as ShareAction, that are engaging with prominent financiers like HSBC to stop their support for fossil fuels. 

Travellers Europe opts out of supporting Adani Carmichael mine 

In further deserting of support for the controversial Adani Carmichael project, Lloyd’s of London syndicate Travellers Europe announced that it would not support the thermal coal mine. The announcement comes as part of a change in strategy for Lloyd’s, which up until late 2020 had been silent on its support for coal mining despite several influential insurers in Europe, such as Allianz and Munich RE, pulling their support for the fuel. 

Construction on the 10 million tonnes-a-year Carmichael mine has nevertheless started, but under Lloyd’s updated policy, no cover will be extended to new thermal coal, oil sands or Arctic energy projects from January 1, 2022. The group will also phase out all existing fossil fuel coverage by 2030.  

Mexico pedalling backwards on climate action under new president’s disdain for clean energy

A new story by the Guardian revealed that Mexico was heading decidedly backwards on climate action under its new president, whose apparent disdain for renewables was amongst the key factors stalling investment in the country’s once-healthy clean energy sector. The story says that under President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (known popularly as Amlo), Mexico’s vision for energy security will include re-starting old coal plants, buying millions of tons of coal from small mines to salvage local jobs and the curtailment of clean energy mandates for utilities, who will instead have to buy more coal power. The plan will, however, refurbish existing hydroelectric facilities to help meet the country’s commitment of generating 35% of its power from renewables. 

The changes are particularly notable as the country was the first from the developing world to table a climate plan before the Paris Agreement, and Amlo is reportedly determined to channel at least 80% of government spending into reviving fossil fuel projects — in sharp contrast to the rest of the G20 nations and the new US government.

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