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Geopolitics and cost of decarbonisation top Outlook Poll of industry concerns

Regulatory uncertainty has ebbed with the IMO’s new greenhouse gas strategy. The newfound clarity on the cost of decarbonisation has shipping worried

Lloyd’s List’s annual outlook poll for 2023 found widespread doubts that the 2030 and 2040 targets can be met, while geopolitics has surpassed fears on the economy as a key risk

THE cost of the green transition and geopolitical risk have emerged as the two key headaches for shipping in 2024, according to the Lloyd’s List Shipping Outlook Survey 2023.

Some 60% of respondents to our latest poll said the cost of decarbonising kept them awake at night most often, up from 35% in last year’s poll.

While 76% said the shipping industry would not meet the International Maritime Organization’s 2030 targets, 56% thought the 2040 targets were out of reach.

Curiously, a similar 56% thought the 2050 target would be met.

Asked to choose the greatest risk to shipping businesses over the next two years, 30% picked geopolitics. Last year 49% thought a global recession would be the biggest risk of the choices provided.



The results reflect a year in which wars in Ukraine and then the Middle East disrupted world trade and put sanctions compliance higher up the industry agenda.

Early relief at clarity on emissions targets in July, when the IMO upped its ambition, gave way to worries about how those targets would be met, and where the fuel would come from.

Availability of new fuels was seen as the bigger challenge over the next five years for 39% of those polled, down from 46% last year, while 28% chose ordering the right ships, and 19% the cost of new fuels.



The ranking of macro factors impacting shipping markets put geopolitical risk at 46%, slowing growth in China at 28%, inflation 13% and climate risk 13%. Last year inflation and concerns over China’s economic health were the top-ranked by about a third of respondents each.

There was more optimism on safety, with just 34% of respondents agreeing with the statement that shipping has taken its eye off the ball — a result unchanged since 2022.

The results also reflect the surge in popularity in 2023 for dual-fuel methanol newbuildings.

Asked to pick a fuel for newbuildings in 2024, 35% answered they would choose this option, compared with 25% for  dual-fuel liquefied natural gas, 18% for dual-fuel ammonia, 14 for conventional fuel and 8% for LNG only.



Yet more respondents — 33% — thought ammonia would be the dominant shipping fuel beyond 2040, compared to 26% for methanol, 26% for synthetic LNG, and 15% for nuclear.

Green corridors, which attracted some fanfare two years ago as an early way to trial zero-carbon fuels, have not been inspiring much confidence.

Asked when these will have a material impact on industry decarbonisation transitions, about one-third said 2023; 31% said 2040; and 34% said they would not have any.



Lack of suitable technology or infrastructure is the biggest risk of the energy transition, according to an overwhelming 66% of respondents.

Other risks include training and skills (15%), data and lack of reporting infrastructure (14%); and an absence of operational guidance or best practice (10%).

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