On April 15th, Glosten President Morgan Fanberg testified before Congress to share his perspective on decarbonizing the US marine industry. The Coast Guard and Marine Transportation subcommittee solicited input from five expert witnesses—all of whom spoke about reducing carbon pollution and advancing zero-emissions technology.
Morgan emphasized that decarbonization presents an exciting opportunity for the US marine industry to innovate new clean energy technologies, but there is an urgent need for funding that must be met in order to pursue these projects and enable the US to be globally competitive. The US operates one of the largest fleets in the world and transitioning away from fossil-fuel-based vessels will be no small feat. It requires an aggressive shift in the attitudes and priorities of public and private stakeholders, who will need to work together to usher in a new era of carbon-free maritime operations.
To reduce greenhouse gas emissions from shipping by 50% by the year 2050, the US requires a strategic plan; one with a clear vision, timeline, achievable metrics, and proper accountability. There are three practical steps federal agencies could take to progress this mission. The first is to increase funding for port and terminal infrastructure projects. Electric vessels need shoreside power to operate, and certain alternative fuels may require specialized infrastructure. Private operators cannot bear the financial burden of these costs alone if these initiatives are to scale at the rate required for us to meet our decarbonization goal.
The second step calls for the US Maritime Administration (MARAD) to accelerate the path to commercialization by facilitating cooperation between academia, government, and commercial entities so that together they may develop successful pilot projects. The third asks for a streamlined regulatory review and approval processes for decarbonization projects from start to finish to help reduce costs—without compromising safety or the environment.
We have caught a glimpse of what a carbon-free maritime industry might look like through a few of Glosten’s own projects. Foil ferry, Zero-V, and the Guemes Island replacement ferry are all propelled using alternative fuels or zero-emission systems. Transforming our industry is a daunting challenge, but not an impossible one. By coordinating efforts at the public and private levels and funding the research, design, and construction necessary to produce decarbonized vessels and technologies, we can position the US a global maritime leader and create a more sustainable marine industry.