Seminar 1: How sustainable are biofuels for shipping?

SSI is holding a series of seminars and webinars to investigate the sustainability and availability of biofuels for shipping. We recognise that a number of questions surround the current, and potential future, sustainability and availability of biofuels – and we want to build a better understanding of the issues at play before deciding whether and how to proceed.

On 26 June 2019 SSI held a seminar on the sustainability of biofuels in Brussels, hosted by SSI member WWF. Facilitated by Forum for the Future, the seminar provided an opportunity for a diverse range of views to be expressed on the key questions raised, providing rich insights and debate.

Among the rich insights and diverse range of views expressed on the key questions raised, the seminar raised the following points:

  • Biofuels remain ‘risky territory’ – with significant potential for good intentions to result in perverse outcomes.
  • But there is also potential for certain biofuels, tapping into certain feedstocks (perhaps within the confines of regions with strong land governance, carbon and biodiversity credentials) to help shipping – or specific parts of the shipping industry – kick-start its journey towards full decarbonisation.
  • There is also potential for the maritime industry (alongside aviation) to play a constructive role in establishing a sustainable bioeconomy – even if, over time, shipping moves beyond biofuels to other alternative technologies meeting its goals.
  • However, there is not yet an effective methodology that answers all the questions raised by different stakeholders, which the shipping industry can turn to for reassurance.
  • A principles-based approach that embraces transparency (and honesty and humility) might enable constructive experimentation while this gap remains.

Participants were asked to share their #1 hope for how shipping will work with biofuels:

- followed by their top advice for the industry as it explores the role of biofuels in its journey towards decarbonisation.

A compelling call for action!