February 6, 2024

ISCC representatives welcomed more than 300 stakeholders to their second ISCC Stakeholder Meeting on Sustainable Marine Fuel (SMF) on February 1st. Held online, the event dived deep into state of the market and how certified sustainable marine fuels are expected to support the sector’s quest to reduce greenhouse gas emissions

The maritime sector has a considerable impact on the environment. The industry is set to reverse this trend and mitigate this impact through, for instance, an increased use of SMF that meets stringent sustainability requirements. At the stakeholder meeting, expert speakers from regulatory, certification, port infrastructure and fuel supply side discussed this topic in more detail and outlined how to turn the maritime sector into a less carbon-intense one.

Status Quo

Prof. Dr. Gernot Klepper, former Chairman of the ISCC Board, opened the meeting with a clear statement: Shipping accounts for around 2% of global GHG emissions and 11% of global transport emissions.“ Given the industry’s contribution to global emissions, it is crucial to find sustainable alternatives, some of which were subsequently presented.

One impactful mechanism supporting sustainable change in the sector is the Life Cycle Assessment Framework developed by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and optimized for the use in future IMO policies. Camille Bourgeon provided an update of the respective GHG emission reduction policy, addressed the scope of the framework, system boundaries, the LCA methodology and the certification by distinct schemes.  

Further on the status quo of the market, Ricardo Batista from the European Commission presented another instrument key to the decarbonization of the sector: The FuelEU Maritime Regulation. Batista focused on the fuel types covered under the regulation, how GHGs are measured and how compliance is assured. 

Quite some dynamics are seen on the market when it comes to SMF prices. Stefka Wechsler, Marine Fuel Price Analyst at Argus, shared an overview of the SMF global price trend and changes in demand. Following Wechsler, Naomi van den Berg from the Port of Rotterdam further shared how SMF can be integrated into existing infrastructures and how ports help scaling up and facilitating the use of SMF.

Certified Sustainable Marine Fuels

Although the demand for bio-blends is not yet taking off at the desired speed and volume, shifting to sustainable alternatives to fossil and carbon-intense fuels will be crucial to cut greenhouse gas emissions. In the second keynote of the day, Thomas René Bock, Team Lead Maritime at ISCC, elaborated on how the industry can get there from a certification perspective. He provided an overview of the certifications available for SMF, their benefits and the role of the distinct stakeholders and ISCC in particular. 

Policies driven by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and the EU, who pursue the goal to reduce emissions from shipping through, inter alia, increasing­­­ the use of alternative marine fuels incentivise stakeholders to produce, supply and use alternative marine fuels certified. A crucial factor for the stakeholders is a proper and reliable certification scheme. Bock explained: “We provide three different certification schemes to assess conformity with sustainability regulatory frameworks, such as the Renewable Energy Directive (RED) and ICAO CORSIA. Two of our schemes are applicable for the maritime industry. They provide an effective instrument to ensure feedstock sustainability, a verified reduction in life cycle emissions, traceability, and chain of custody along the fuel’s supply chain.” While the systems exist, there are hurdles to overcome before a market-wide scaling of sustainable marine fuel certifications. However, Thomas René Bock stays confident as he stated that ISCC has seen a considerable increase in certification demand and that ISCC is committed to collaborate with its stakeholders and contribute to the furtherance of the production, supply and use of SMF on a global scale.

Future Outlook

In a closing panel discussion, Thomas René Bock, Daniel Barcarolo (Maersk Mc-Kinney Moller Center), Ingrid Marie Vincent Andersen and Nicolas Robbins went into further insightful discussions. They addressed the current market situation and where future developments might lead to. With regards to future developments, they emphasized the importance of harmonizing policy instruments, concluding that both policy and certification requirements must be aligned where possible to allow for a smooth market scale-up of SMF. Despite the challenges still to be overcome, the panelists are convinced that the use of SMF will be key in achieving the ambitious emission reduction goals set for the sector.

For more details, check the speakers presentations: https://www.iscc-system.org/events/iscc-stakeholder-committees/sustainable-marine-fuels/