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Intelligent & Resilient Ocean Engineering – Royal Academy of Engineering Chair in Emerging TechnologiesNews and Events

Susan Gourvenec takes part in Royal Academy of Engineering panel event “Addressing sustainability in shipping"

Published: 5 March 2022
Royal Academy of Engineering event

IROE Chair, Susan Gourvenec was one of three panellists discussing challenges and opportunities in achieving a sustainable shipping sector as part of the Royal Academy of Engineering series of public events.

The event, which took place on 1 March 2022, was Chaired by Dervilla Mitchell CBE FREng, Joint Deputy Chair Arup, with panellists Cathy Davis, Head of Strategy, Sustainability, Simulation and Synthetics, BAE SYSTEMS and Katharine Palmer, Global Head of Sustainability for Lloyd’s Register Maritime and currently seconded to the UN High Level Climate Champion team as the Shipping Lead, alongside Susan.  

The value of the shipping sector is unequivocal: More than 80% of global trade travels by ship – everything from raw bulk materials like iron ore that makes steel, through coal and grain, to consumable goods from food to cars. So clearly we all rely on the shipping sector for most things that we consume in our daily lives. The shipping sector also supports livelihoods for millions of people and national economies – and across the life cycle of shipping from design and construction, through operation and then decommissioning.

However, key sustainability issues need to be addressed by the shipping sector. If the shipping sector were a country it would be about the 8th largest international polluter – somewhere between Japan and Germany – accountable for a bit over 3% of global carbon emissions, and only set to increase for a no-change scenario, so clearly the shipping sector needs to decarbonise.

Something over 90% of carbon emissions from ships comes from operation, so fuel emissions, with relatively little embodied carbon in the ship itself, so future clean fuels for shipping are clearly key to achieve decarbonisation in shipping.

There are also wider environmental and social challenges facing the shipping sector that also need addressing, including seafarer welfare during the operational life of the ship and human and environmental safety at the end of engineered life, i.e. during decommissioning of ships that are no longer operational.

Between 600 and 800 merchant vessels are decommissioned each year and the majority (around 70% in 2020) are decommissioned without adequate infrastructure, or equipment or ppe for workers, and by a process called beaching, without adequate waste disposal pathways that leads to contamination of the environment.

The Royal Academy of Engineering, through its Engineering X partnership with Lloyd’s Register Foundation and the Safer End of Engineered Life Programme (SEEL), is working to address some of these challenges by raising awareness, build partnerships and communities and support various projects to improve safety in decommissioning offshore structures and ships, where risks are most prevalent. Susan is a Member of Programme Board for the Engineering X SEEL Programme and lead for the Safer Decommissioning of Offshore Structures and Ships Theme.

You can watch the event online here or directly on YouTube here


Panel event
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