Navigating Towards Net-Zero in Saudi Arabia: Maritime Industry’s Greenhouse Gas Emissions Could Surge to 44% by 2050, Arthur D. Little Calls for Urgent Action

  • Maritime transport currently contributes to 3% of global greenhouse gas emissions, which amounts to a staggering 1,708 million metric tons.
  • Arthur D. Little’s latest viewpoint explores the current response of the maritime industry to climate change and the imperative for sustainable practices to reshape the sector.
  • Saudi Arabia is strongly promoting environmental sustainability and supporting green initiatives in the port & maritime sector.

Ain Alalam – Rashad Iskandrni

 4 March 2024: While shipping is a critical component of global supply chains, it also accounts for 3% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. Addressing the urgent need for action, Arthur D. Little (ADL) presents actionable strategies for the maritime industry to adopt more sustainable practices with a focus on reducing emissions in a new viewpoint titled “Cleaner Seas: Mitigating Maritime Emissions”.

According to recent analysis by ADL, maritime transport contributes to 3% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, amounting to 1,708 million metric tons of emissions. Without measures to control this increase, ADL predicts that this figure could rise to 44% by 2050. Recognizing the urgent need to address emissions, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) has set ambitious goals for reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the maritime industry. The IMO initially aimed for a 50% reduction in emissions by 2050 but is now pushing for the industry to reach net-zero emissions by that same year.

In line with Saudi Arabia’s commitment to achieving net zero by 2060, the Port & Maritime Environmental Strategy is placing a heavy focus on supporting the Kingdom and Middle East’s green initiatives contribution to Maritime Decarbonization.

Paolo Carlomagno, Partner and Global Head of the Port & Maritime competence center at Arthur D. Little, said: “The port & maritime sector plays a pivotal role in the global effort to achieve net-zero emissions. The Kingdom is launching flagship projects, aimed to promoting long-term environmental sustainability in its port and maritime ecosystem, and collaborating with stakeholders to enforce regulations, create innovative technological solutions, and build an environmentally sustainable ecosystem that supports Saudi Arabia in becoming a global logistics hub. Key green initiatives will be executed across four main pillars – Climate Change, Environmental Protection, Resources & Circularity, and Environmental Risk & Management, aiming to reduce Green-House Gases (GHG) emissions of the ecosystem by 3% per year.


Scaling Up Green Fuels and Transforming Maritime Operations


As part of its commitment to driving the sustainability agenda in the maritime industry, ADL provides innovative solutions and expertise to help address the challenges posed by maritime emissions. To combat emissions and facilitate greener practices, the viewpoint advocates for the adoption of alternative fuels, such as green fuels (biodiesel, bio-methane, and bio-methanol) and e-fuels (e-methane, e-methanol, green ammonia, and hydrogen).

In the short term, bluemethanol, ammonia, and hydrogen can offer decarbonization benefits, cutting emissions by 20% to 60%. However, these fuels are not sustainable in the long term as they are fossil-based. A better solution lies in the usage of green fuels, such as biodiesel, bio-methane, and bio-methanol, which can reduce emissions by 60% to 80%. While there are challenges regarding their environmental impact and scalability, efforts should be made to encourage shipping companies to use more green fuels, while incentivizing producers to increase production.

In addition to alternative fuels, the viewpoint highlights the importance of technological innovations to improve operational efficiency in existing assets. Onboard carbon capture and storage (CCS) systems, for example, have shown promising results by trapping more than 60% of a ship’s CO2 emissions. Technical innovations such as wind-assist propulsion, and the use of solar panels and fuel cells are highlighted as key strategies to minimize fuel consumption and decrease emissions. Other innovations, such as kite-sail systems and improved hull designs, can significantly reduce fuel consumption by 20% to 40% and up to 8%, respectively.

The full viewpoint, “”Cleaner Seas: Mitigating Maritime Emissions,” can be accessed here.