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Gibraltar begins to sketch out Low-emission Future

January 04, 2024

As the focus on shipping decarbonization centres around alternative fuels poised to replace traditional fuel oil, the attention is progressively turning towards ports and their crucial role in fuel delivery.

John Cortes, Gibraltar’s Environment Minister, and a member of the UK’s delegation to COP28, acknowledges the importance of long-term planning in addressing decarbonization challenges.

“Liquified natural gas is a transitional fuel and already we are doing some of that in Gibraltar, but ultimately, there is a feeling that the whole shipping industry will decarbonise by around 2050.”

“It is increasingly obvious that ports that wish to retain bunkering facilities will have to be prepared to transition to new fuels like ammonia, for example, and possibly hydrogen,” Cortes told local news outlet the Gibraltar Chronicle.

Moving in that direction would represent an important step for Gibraltar in “reducing the amount of fuel oil supplied here and the knock-on carbon impact – and replacing it with cleaner alternatives”.

Cortes said he could see tangential benefits from diversifying the port’s fuel base.

“Once the ships are fuelled with ammonia, you are not going to see the smoke trails [from ships], so clearly the air quality in the port or near the port… would be cleaner.”

The decarbonization strategy of the International Maritime Organization underscores the pivotal role of ports. Prominent ports and bunkering hubs like Singapore, Rotterdam, and Los Angeles are actively advancing their decarbonization initiatives, which include the establishment of green corridors.