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Decarbonisation and changing the world

I've been really privileged over the last couple of months to be able to get my teeth into a couple of projects that are both globally important and personally resonant. That does sound a bit grand doesn't it - but seriously, its all about how we go about saving the world, and saving ourselves. The stakes couldn't be higher.

I've been working towards a pair of new films* looking at the decarbonisation of the shipping industry and how it will affect, well, everything. Its hard to overstate the importance of shipping to all of our lives - 90 percent of all goods are transported around the world by ship - but 99% of them are powered by heavy fuel oil - carbon intensive fossil fuel - belching millions of tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere very year.

Its something that environmental campaigners have been saying has to change for years - now, finally, the industry has pretty much universally recognised that it has to happen, and will happen.

As part of the filming process, I interviewed Kitack Lim, the Secretary General of the IMO, the International Maritime Organisation - the global body that regulates shipping.

It was enormously heartening to hear him be so positive about the changes that have to happen - but also sobering to think about the amount of disruption and cost that will mean. There are a lot of difficulties to overcome - not least that no one is yet sure what the fuels of the future will actually be - Hydrogen? Ammonia? Methanol? Wind power? The race is on to create viable and cost effective alternatives to diesel - but shifts in government attitudes and regulation as well as enormous consumer pressure for big business to clean up its collective act, already mean that the oil majors are scrambling to reposition themselves as energy companies, and avoid being left with billions of poundsworth of stranded dirty assets that no one wants to touch.

I've been very gloomy in recent years about the state of the planet, where we are all heading, and what to do about it. Turns out, I'm not the only one - and what has been brilliant over the last few months has been getting the chance to talk to very senior figures in finance, insurance, law, the UK's Ports and Shipping bosses - and they ALL get it. Change is coming, whether anyone likes it or not - decarbonisation is a real thing - and the opportunities for those who make the transition ahead of the curve are potentially enormous.

Maersk, one of the biggest shipping companies in the world recently announced $1.4 billion investment in EIGHT new ships that will run on carbon neutral alternative fuel. They are betting on that giving them a competitive advantage as huge corporates like Amazon, Disney and Microsoft look to cut their carbon footprints. Times, they are a changin'....

*The films are called Making Waves, and Gateways to Growth - both created by CWP - I'll be posting more about them separately.

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