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Elissama Menezes, the Climate and Shipping Consultant directing the ‘Say No to LNG’ global campaign, has told Bunkerspot that the campaign wants to work with partners to support a ‘zero-emission, just and equitable shipping industry enabling a fair distribution of society’s benefits, advantages and assets’.

Set to launch in the next few months, the campaign is focusing on derailing LNG because it believes that the fuel is being presented as a cleaner alternative – when its ‘adverse life-cycle pollution impacts’ mean that it is not a genuine step forward.

Speaking exclusively to Bunkerspot, Menezes said: ‘Proponents of fossil liquefied gas are gaslighting the maritime industry, policymakers and investors away from zero-emissions solutions and towards a dead-end path.’

Much of the debate on LNG’s credibility centres on the issue of ‘methane slip’. It is widely accepted that methane is a climate pollutant with significant short-term warming effects. Indeed, in this context methane is more damaging than carbon dioxide – and this is a problem because methane leaks, or slips, into the atmosphere right across the LNG lifecycle: from extraction and processing through to distribution and usage.

The manufacturers of ships’ engines acknowledge the issue, but say they are making significant progress on methane slip with the latest generation of LNG-fuelled engines (and those to come in the future). However, the Say No to LNG campaign organisers counter this by flagging up statistics from the Fourth IMO GHG study which indicate that, when soundings were taking in 2017, 40% of marine fuel LNG was being used in high methane slip engines. They also believe that, far from being brought under control, methane emission from ships ‘are expected to continue growing in the near future’. Furthermore, Say No to LNG emphasises the importance of a full well-to-wake (WTW) emissions analysis, and argues that the environmental impacts of upstream LNG include not only methane slip but also concentrations of hazardous pollutants near drilling sites, groundwater contamination and health risks to populations living near fracking sites.

Menezes believes that the growing LNG-capable orderbook ‘raises concerns that the sector will waste significant resources in building more fossil-fuelled ships that will worsen climate warming, instead of investing in real zero-emission solutions, like zero-emission fuels and wind propulsion technology.’

While the campaign is emphatic in its opposition to LNG, it is not looking to specifically champion any one of the other fuels which are being proposed as solutions for the maritime industry. Instead, Menezes suggests, it will recognise that there is no one-size-fits-all-solution across all regions. The campaign’s view is that a number of different fuels and technologies could come into play – but they will have to meet four key criteria. Menezes offers this summary: ‘The campaign supports a solution for shipping decarbonisation that is 1.5C-aligned, considers a lifecycle approach, goes beyond fuel solutions (i.e. includes operational and efficiency measures), and is aligned with a just and equitable transition.’

So, while the campaign is saying No to LNG, it is also saying Yes to a wide range of options – and it says it is open to working with shipping industry stakeholders, researchers, NGOs and community leaders to discuss and support those options.

Menezes believes that the discussions – and the actions – need to start as soon as possible. 

‘For the shipping sector,’ she warns, ‘the current trajectory and the IMO's target to reduce emissions by half by 2050 do not get the industry anywhere close to zero emissions before 2050 compared to the 2008 emissions baseline. To keep the sector emissions within the Paris Agreement budget and avoid worsening climate impacts, the shipping industry and the IMO need to aim for zero emissions by no later than 2050 and start reducing its greenhouse gas (GHG) footprint right now.’

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