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International Windship Association Shares Open Letter Urging Solutions for Climate Concerns


International Windship Association Shares Open Letter Urging Solutions for Climate Concerns

The undersigned,

We call on all maritime industry decision-makers and the entire shipping community to fully assess and utilize all available power solutions that deliver the necessary deep, swift cuts in carbon emissions over the next decade commensurate with responding to the climate emergency. To that end, readily available and proven wind propulsion solutions must be integrated at the very heart of decarbonization deliberations.

Direct wind propulsion provides abundant, free energy, immediately and uniquely suited to and accessible to shipping worldwide without the need for costly land-based infrastructure or logistics investment. Wind technology helps de-risk shipping from its dependency on bunker fuels. Emerging alternative fuels come with multiple challenges – cost, availability, density, and quality and wind propulsion decouples shipping somewhat from these huge uncertainties around whatever ‘flavor’ eco-fuel is adopted.

Whatever size or type of commercial vessel, wind-assist or primary wind propulsion systems quickly provide credible, practical, robust, scalable and economically viable solutions – a dozen large ocean going vessels will be in operation by the end of Q1, 2021, along with 20+ small sail cargo and small cruise vessels.

The potential exists for 20-30% of the global fleet’s energy requirement to be delivered by wind systems. By adopting wind
solutions as part of a hybrid propulsion approach, vessel owners and operators can substantially deliver on the initial level emission savings targets for 2030, thus providing a critical component and step for achieving the 2050 target. A UK Government commissioned study forecasts up to 45% penetration of wind technologies into the global fleet by 2050. A key EU-commissioned report on wind estimates up to 10,700 installations are possible by 2030, including roughly 50% of bulkers and 67% of tankers alone.

Wind propulsion reduces demand, cost and power storage requirements for the next generation of alternative fuels, which
further helps to accelerate and enable the take-up and cost efficiency of these alternative fuels.

Therefore, we call on all shipping industry decision-makers to:

1. Establish a Multi-Stakeholder International Working Group to evaluate and quantify wind propulsion’s potential contribution to decarbonizing the global fleet in the face of the climate emergency. Promote the potential from a hybrid approach to decarbonization with wind propulsion fully integrated together with operational and vessel optimization measures along with eco-fuels.

2. Launch a Comprehensive Strategic Review of shipping industry decarbonization efforts in the context of the climate emergency. Covering all criteria, designations and databases/resources being used, this review would incorporate wind propulsion into all calculations and include a full life cycle analysis of all alternative propulsion systems and fuels so that the industry can fully appreciate the merits of each proposed system. The review should quantify all externalities including infrastructure development and production costs of all alternative propulsion systems and fuels along with their direct and indirect climate impacts.

3. Ensure a ‘level playing field’ is created and maintained for all power systems, removal of market and non-market barriers
as well as fair and balanced allocation of R&D finances and resources in the future.

4. Do more and go beyond the current narrow fuel-centric approach by adopting a fully integrated alternative propulsion approach to decarbonization pathways and policy. Doing so will create a proportionate, measured strategy that is absolutely essential to achieving the industry emissions targets. We believe that wind propulsion systems must be fully integrated within this strategy to help achieve decarbonization as quickly as possible and that this will be broadly welcomed by the shipping industry.

trade policy

US Trade Policy – A Tool to Help Combat the Climate Crisis

A climate crisis is upon us—the scientific evidence is overwhelming. The question is how to respond quickly and decisively on all fronts—at both a domestic and an international level. Carbon pricing is a key mechanism that economists believe is essential to reduce carbon emissions and mitigate climate change. With this in mind, we believe the time has come to harness the power of global trade by using international trade laws to create incentives for a global economy in which the price of carbon is considered in regulating international trade flows. A new administration in Washington provides an opportunity for a more creative approach in which trade policy also serves climate policy. Indeed, President Biden explicitly stated in his climate change platform that “[w]e can no longer separate trade policy from our climate objectives.”

The Biden administration can use existing international trade laws—without delay and without legislation—to take action in response to the global climate crisis. By doing so, the US can lead the way and help shape an international regime that will provide an incentive for companies around the world to price carbon in connection with their operations or face economic consequences at the US border.

Two existing trade remedy laws facilitate such an approach: (1) Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974 and (2) the countervailing duty law. Together or individually, these laws provide a basis for immediate action creating commercial incentives for responsible behavior by US trading partners. Thoughtful use of Section 301 and the countervailing duty law would be consistent with sound climate policy and ensure that US workers are not disadvantaged by competition with foreign industries that ignore the carbon cost of products they export to the United States.

Section 301 authorizes trade retaliation against “an act, policy, or practice of a foreign country” that “is unjustifiable and burdens or restricts United States commerce.” This broad language should be interpreted as including industrial practices that fail to recognize the cost of carbon in the production of products imported into the United States. For example, the production of steel in China benefits from low-cost, carbon-intensive manufacturing. These unpriced carbon costs disadvantage US steel companies, which compete with Chinese steel imports, no less than other Chinese government policies that directly subsidize the Chinese steel industry. The United States could utilize Section 301 to increase pressure on trading partners such as China and, absent a change in behavior, impose duties to offset the negative impact of carbon-intensive production practices on US industries.

Likewise, the US countervailing duty law is sufficiently flexible to facilitate recognition of the cost of carbon, consistent with other efforts to expand the concept of what constitutes an unfair subsidy. For example, just last year the Department of Commerce revised its countervailing duty regulations to permit currency undervaluation to be treated as a subsidy.  Under this new approach, Commerce recently determined that Vietnam’s currency practices provide an unfair advantage to Vietnamese exporters and justify the imposition of countervailing duties on Vietnamese imports. The simple point is that US trade officials have now recognized that a broader set of foreign government policies are just as pernicious as the traditional subsidization practices that have long been the basis for imposing countervailing duties to protect US workers from unfair foreign competition.

We anticipate that our suggestions could be met with skepticism on the grounds that we are advocating an expansion of traditional notions of unfair trade practices. So be it. We are in a global crisis and business as usual will not do. Our point is to cut through the red tape and bureaucratic delays that have traditionally characterized the federal government’s response to the climate crisis. If nothing else, these trade tools could serve as forcing mechanisms to incentivize more effective international cooperation to fight climate change. Better to act immediately using the international trade tools we already have at our disposal than engage in a lengthy debate over procedure while the jobs and prosperity of US citizens are threatened by imports from countries unwilling to do their part in combatting climate change. There is no time to wait.


Mark Herlach, a partner at Eversheds Sutherland, is an international lawyer with a practice focused on energy, international trade and defense matters. Mark represents a broad range of clients, including corporations, advanced-technology companies and governments. Emily Rosenblum, an associate at Eversheds Sutherland, is a member of the Energy Group and international trade practice. Emily advises clients on a wide range of regulatory and commercial issues involving international trade.