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State of play: Rift over green shipping

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

BP announced its investment in methanol startup WasteFuel this morning as international negotiators gathered in London to hash out a potential deal to slash emissions from the shipping industry.

Why it matters: A global agreement to use cleaner maritime fuels would further stoke investment in methanol and liquefied natural gas.

What's happening: Diplomats and shipping chiefs have been meeting this week at the International Maritime Organization's headquarters.

  • The UN agency is aiming to tighten its greenhouse gas targets for international shipping — and ultimately set a course toward phasing out emissions entirely.

Be smart: Hydrogen-powered ships exist. But the most immediate replacement fuels will be methanol and liquefied natural gas, which are easier to transport.

The intrigue: The White House this week hosted executives from the methanol industry to talk about the IMO negotiations.

  • There's growing concern that China will try to scuttle efforts to phase-out conventional maritime fuels.

Meanwhile, the Biden administration last year announced an effort to create "green shipping corridors" to encourage companies to invest in cleaner fuels.

Reality check: Methanol is already in high demand for building materials, clothing, car parts and more. Efforts to incorporate the fuel into shipping will send demand even higher, challenging supplies.

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