Maersk aligns climate goals with SBTi Net-Zero Standard
In what it claims is a first for the maritime industry, shipping giant AP Moller-Maersk has had its plans to achieve net-zero by 2040 verified by the Science-Based Targets Initiative (SBTi).
Maersk is targeting a 96% absolute reduction in Scope 1 (direct) and Scope 2 (power-related) emissions by 2040, against a 2022 baseline. Within the same timeframe, it is aiming to reduce its absolute Scope 3 (indirect) emissions by 90%.
Residual emissions will then be addressed using offsetting, in line with the SBTi’s criteria.
Maersk has set a suite of interim emissions goals to support its 2040 vision, all with a 2030 deadline and 2022 baseline year.
These include a 35% reduction in Scope 1 emissions and a 22% reduction in Scope 3 emissions, plus shifting to renewable options for all electricity procurement.
Maersk, which first announced its intention to work towards net-zero by 2040 two years ago, estimates that 60% of its largest customers have science-based targets and will therefore be placing increased low-carbon expectations in the near future.
“These new targets are a proof-point that even as a company in a hard–to-abate sector, it is possible to adopt ambitious science-based targets and get them validated,” said Maersk’s head of energy transition Morten Bo Christiansen.
“We know that delivering on them will be a very difficult task, however, setting ambitious targets, both near- and long-term, is critical to our energy transition efforts as they drive action to secure material impact in this decade.”
To bring down Scope 1 and 2 emissions, Maerk’s key focus areas are improving fuel efficiency, procuring renewable electricity and adopting alternative fuels.
As low-carbon fuels come at a cost premium compared with fossil fuels, Maersk is advocating for the World Shipping Council to develop a ‘green balance proposal’ to level the playing field and unlock investment.
At the International Maritime Organisation’s (IMO) annual meeting last year, attendees failed to agree on a timeline for implementing a greenhouse gas levy on international shipping. However, the measure will be back on the agenda next time.
The meeting did see new carbon targets agreed but climate campaigners lambasted attendees for failing to move beyond an emissions intensity approach and pledge to halve absolute emissions by 2030.
Roughly 90% of global trade moves via the sea, but shipping is challenging to decarbonise due to a lack of commercially available technology options.
Shipping is currently responsible for around 3% of global CO2e emissions, but researchers for the European Parliament believe this proportion could rise to 17.5% by mid-century without a step-change in approach.
Last month, the UK Government unveiled £33m of innovation funding to dozens of projects across the nation to support emerging low-carbon technologies for ships and ports.
The funding, from the Department for Transport’s Clean Maritime Demonstration Competition, will support projects working on technologies including ammonia, methanol, hydrogen and electrification. Electrification is easier to achieve at ports while the other technology options could contribute to the fuelling of ships.
Announcing the funding, Maritime Minister Lord Davies said: “Unlocking a sustainable maritime sector and the economic growth it provides relies on cutting-edge technology to propel it to the next level. The voyage to sustainability demands bold investments to not just deliver greener shipping but highly skilled jobs across the UK.”
The UK was one of more than a dozen nations signing a new declaration on the creation of zero-emission shipping routes between ports at COP26. The so-called ‘Clydebank Declaration’ is aiming to establish at least six corridors by the mid-2020s, which are likely to be shorter routes, and to add “many more routes”, including long-haul routes, by 2030.