Banks are on the horns of a dilemma when it comes to finance shipping's decarbonisation initiative, a panel of top financiers said on Tuesday.

The problem was laid out by Citi's Shreyas Chipalkatty, global head of shipping, in reply to what has been a classic question for lending panels over the years: are banks open to taking in new customers, or rather sticking to the lower risk entailed by an existing list of "Tier One" shipowners?

While the reality generally has been the latter for the lenders in recent years, Chipalkatty turned it to reflect shipping's current challenge to answer decarbonisation demands imposed by regulators.