Low Carbon Sea Transport

Project description

Title: Low Carbon Sea Transport
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMU)
Countries: Marshall Islands
Main Implementation Partner: Ministry of Transport and Communication, Republic of the Marshall Islands
Overall term: 2017 to 2022


With its high dependency on imported fuels, the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) operates a domestic shipping fleet that generates a significant volume of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

By greening RMI’s shipping technologies and raising energy efficiency, the project is helping the country achieve its Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC). Ultimately, this will benefit public agencies, private companies and the people of RMI, inter alia by reducing transport costs.

The project consists of a two-phase approach. The first phase involves working with partners to assess the fleet’s economic efficiency and emissions. Using this baseline data, it then aims to develop and analyse various low-carbon propulsion technologies for intra-atoll and also inter-atoll shipping.

The second phase involves equipping a ship with the selected propulsion technologies and having it tested by the Marshall Islands Shipping Corporation (MISC). This also involves corresponding education and training for crew members and researchers. In parallel to these activities, the project also has an intra-lagoon transport component and is designed to deliver policy support to the RMI Government throughout, including UNFCCC negotiations.

Having got underway in June 2017, the project is expected to last until May 2022 (5 years). The German Federal Government’s contribution to this bilateral cooperation project amounts to EUR 9,500,000.

The project has already established a steering committee and is currently collecting and analysing data about domestic sea transport as part of its baseline study.

Data collection essentially concentrates on the use of state-owned cargo vessels, their fuel consumption and level of emissions. A key factor here are the Marshallese copra processing plants which are reliant on sea transport to market their products.

In cooperation with Germany’s University of Applied Sciences in Emden/Leer, the project has identified a number of low-carbon propulsion options which are currently being assessed for use in the Marshall Islands.

This project serves as a role model. Over time, it is expected that other Pacific SIDS will seek financial support from public and private investors and donors in order to emulate this low-carbon approach. The resulting domino effect will see sea transport emissions reduced even further, leading to even lower levels of sea and air pollution and a reduction in SIDS’ dependency on imported fossil fuels. This scenario would also enhance the resilience of outer island communities and generate greater economic opportunities by increasing transport options and making them more affordable in the longer term.

Other long-term impacts besides better island transport links in general include improved health service delivery, more jobs in inter- and intra-island transport along with a general boost to the economy.

Thanks to capacity development and policy support for the RMI Government, RMI’s contribution to international forums, such as UNFCCC and IMO, will continue to gain global momentum.