Tom Strang

Collaboration is crucial if the maritime industry is to reach its sustainability goals

Tom Strang, Senior Vice President at Carnival Corporation, explains what sustainability means to his company and why collaboration is essential for the maritime industry’s journey to a low carbon future.

Sustainability is front and centre of Carnival Corporation’s ethos; it's a key part of our business. That’s why we recently reaffirmed our aspiration of achieving Net-Zero operations by 2050 in our latest Sustainability Report.

Carnival Corporation is spending a significant amount of time and resources on mapping out its path to decarbonisation. For example, we are mapping the various different pathways based on assumptions around availability of alternative fuels. We're also going through the process of looking at all our scope one and scope two emissions and making estimates around scope three. We know that we’ve got a lot of work to do to reach our goals and an important part of that effort is choosing the fuel for the future.

In 2012 when we started our LNG journey, the fuel wasn’t selected for its decarbonisation properties, it was chosen because it was the cleanest available alternative fuel. It delivers on all the traditional pollutants, including NOx, SOx and particulate matter, and was becoming more available and commercially competitive.

The focus now is on decarbonisation and once again LNG delivers – we achieve a 20%-plus reduction in CO2 emissions – and we believe it’s a fuel in transition with a long-term transition pathway. It will allow us to use the existing infrastructure to move into biomethane and then into synthetic methane in the future.

Alternative fuel options

The biggest difficulty with all these alternative fuels is availability and logistics. Building infrastructure to support ammonia and methanol is going to be massively challenging and people tend to underestimate the level of effort that will be required to make alternative fuels readily available. In most cases, you can’t reuse existing assets.

If you want to switch to liquid hydrogen, for example, the process would involve a completely new set of cryogenic requirements. And there's a lot of ammonia transiting around the world with no concrete bunkering infrastructure. How are you going to suddenly convert existing bunker vessels? You can’t. You’ll need to build a completely new fleet.

Similarly, with methanol, which is a lot easier to carry. It doesn't have the toxicity problems of ammonia, and it doesn't have the cryogenic challenges of hydrogen and LNG, but it still will require a complete change to the infrastructure and the supply chain. That's not to say it can't be done, but it is important to understand that it will take a significant amount of work to transition successfully to any of the potential alternative fuel options.

The value of co-operation

‘How important is collaboration? It's going to be essential when transitioning to alternative fuels as the most economic choices may not necessarily be the most efficient options – sharing data and insights is therefore vital.’

Even a company as successful as Carnival Corporation needs to collaborate and we’re already doing this in each of the different fuel sectors.

The collaboration across the whole supply chain is crucial, too, although there are questions about how we can best work together. For instance, there are legal issues around competition to consider, but I think we can overcome those because we're all trying to do the right thing.