Industry leaders in ocean shipping are looking for ways to reduce the global footprint per container. One of such ways they are looking to change the industry is by implementing a zero-carbon fuel. The research, the gaining traction, it’s so far off. In the interim, there have been other significant steps to reduce omissions that are already having a big impact.
Currently, the Clean Cargo initiative put forth by the Business for Social Responsibility organization is providing data that measures and reports environmental performance for ocean carriers, specifically reporting CO2 emissions. While this is a newer program, it shows that emissions have fallen regularly over the last four years.
Clean Cargo has calculated thy since the year 2015, there has been a 9.6% decline in the total levels of CO2 emissions per container, and this applies to 17 of the largest carriers. Those 17 carriers represent 80% of all container shipping taking place across the waters. These factors have been cited as significant progress by the organization and highlighted the efforts that members are making toward meeting all of the targets set up for the upcoming benchmark of the year 2050, which is the year put forward by the International Maritime Organization to cut CO2 emissions in half.
It is important to note that decarbonizing ocean shipping has become a challenge for the business of ocean shipping. The industry has focused on consolidating and providing comprehensive emissions data, but that’s just the first of many steps in this collaborative effort. This will take critical collaboration throughout the entire value chain. The data offered by clean cargo now allows ports, carriers, four-wheelers, and shippers to work together. By having the same data, these industry leaders can collaborate on initiatives and work together to find solutions that can be developed and scaled appropriately. This isn’t a one-time solution either. Meeting the goal of cutting emissions in half by 2050 requires a sustainable solution for the cargo shipping industry that will change the way shipping takes place.
The aggregate average trade lane CO2 emissions are taken into account in the latest CO2 emissions data. This data has been collected and reported on over 3,200 ships. As mentioned, those ships come from 17 of the biggest ocean container carriers in the world, representing approximately 80% of all ocean carrier trade. This includes container carriers such as :
- Maersk Line
- CMA CGM
- COSCO Shipping Line
- Evergreen Line
- Mediterranean Shipping Co.
- Ocean Network Express
The report indicates that these companies are working hard to expand and improve the environmental efficiency of their entire fleet while also guaranteeing proper functions within global trade. It does no one in the industry any good to focus solely on improvements to clean energy if it comes at the expense of the proper functioning of global trade or, worse yet, inhibits it.
To that end, the calculations from this report are instrumental in a better understanding of how this is all transpiring. The emissions calculation and reporting system from Clean Cargo gives environmental scorecards based on the performance of every carrier. Those scorecards are then used by the companies to meet sustainability goals at the corporate supply chain level. Of course, the scorecard is only disseminated to those groups participating in the sustainability goals. While it amounts for 80% of the industry, it does not cover 100%. Joining these groups is a voluntary act, but the emissions targets put forth by regulators are continuing to put pressure on every party within the shipping supply chain to voluntarily exert effort in terms of reducing carbon footprints.
The strategy for a 50% reduction by the year 2050 was unveiled in 2018. More importantly, this is not a single goal by the end of the term. Regulators require finalized, short-term measures at varying intervals, the first of which is the year 2023, the second of which is the mid-term measurement in 2030, at which point CO2 emissions should have declined by 40%. Regulators are encouraging efforts to get rid of GHG emissions entirely.
What experts are saying
Today, shipping accounts for an average of 3% of all global CO2 emissions. This is equivalent to what is produced by countries like Germany. Proportionally, it is set to increase as global trade increases. For the shipping industry to meet these targets, they will need to find a carbon-free fuel. Some members who have voluntarily joined these groups have done just that. Maersk announced that they are forming a partnership with BMW Group, Levi Strauss & Company, H&M group, and Marks & Spencer to find a potential blend of zero-carbon shipping fuel.
How shippers will be affected
Annual summits are bringing together hundreds of logistics executives, environmental experts, and shipping executives to work together to find solutions that will help make transformative changes across the entire industry. In the publication produced by the Global Maritime Issues Monitor, respondents from 46 countries have noted that some of the most critical issues facing the maritime industry today are the demand for the decarbonization of shipping, the new environmental regulations they are facing, and social requirements for sustainability.
Environmental initiatives are currently underway, and there are new efforts that still need to take place. Environmental regulation is very likely to be put into effect over the next decade, which will impact the shipping industry even more heavily.
The availability of zero-carbon fuel and vessels is currently the most significant barrier to achieving decarbonization within the shipping industry over the next decade. The sector will need to use commercially-viable containers that produce zero emissions and zero-emission fuels across the global fleet by the mid-term milestone to reduce total emissions by 40% and subsequently reduce greenhouse gasses by 50% by the year 2050.