New sustainability roadmap launched as shipping industry hits troubled waters over emissions

A coalition of businesses and NGOs including AkzoNobel, Unilever and WWF is introducing a 2040 roadmap and set of shared commitments to help the shipping industry navigate the 'significant challenges' it faces on reducing emissions.

The Sustainable Shipping Initiative (SSI) – a collection of companies and NGOs worth $0.5trn – has developed the new roadmap to set out the key milestones and critical areas that need to be addressed in order for the shipping industry to lower emissions by 90% by 2040, against a 1990 baseline.

The roadmap – scheduled for release in the first quarter of 2016 – was announced in SSI’s annual progress report this week, which highlights the steps that were being, and need to be, introduced to promote more sustainable shipping standards.

It comes at a ctirical time for the industry: maritime emissions were reported to be 949 megatonnes in 2014, and could rise by up to 250% by 2050 without clear industry and government targets in place to aid the transition to greener fuels. 

Maritime mission

SSI chief executive Alastair Fischbacher said: “Our second Progress Report shows the real developments that the SSI and its members are making and the positive work that is being conducted among members and with many stakeholders in the shipping industry.

“There is no room for complacency, and we must be under no illusion of the significant challenges that lie ahead. But we have shown that when organisations within the industry come together to make a difference and drive more sustainable behaviours great things can be achieved.

“We will continue with this mission, and welcome organisations from all elements of the shipping supply chain to join with us and work to deliver a sustainable industry; an industry which continues to play a critical role in driving the global economy, and in which future generations can thrive.”

The report notes that, five years on from SSI’s inception, the lack of availability of skilled labour; issues over workers welfare, increased demand for transparency and regulation as well the lack of desire to promote shipping as a viable workplace, are among the biggest challenges the industry now faces.

Action points

To combat these issues, SSI members have signed up to a set of shared commitments aimed at highlighting SSI’s dedication to sustainability. These benchmarks aim to drive greater transparency in the sector.

Once live – in Q1 2016 – the roadmap will set out the viable range of biofuels and renewable sources such as hydro and wind that can be used as an alternative to fossil fuels all the way through to 2040.

Supply chain pledge

Currently, few owners and operators of freight ships have the capital to invest in the uptake of green technologies and fuels. To combat this, SSI members have pledged to develop large, efficient, integrated supply chains that encourages resource development and sharing.

Last year, the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) shelved plans to place an emissions cap on the world’s shipping fleet. This blow was increased further when both aviation and shipping were excluded from the final draft of the legally binding text agreement at COP21.

Matt Mace

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