Shipping Industry is Sailing Along its Sustainability Journey

A Case for More ActionThe shipping industry is tackling global shipping sustainability issues and sailing along its journey towards a sustainable and profitable shipping industry by 2040.

Held last Thursday in Singapore, the industry event “Sustainable Shipping: A Case for more Action” was organised by the Sustainable Shipping Initiative (SSI) to launch their new report and tools to support the progress along this sustainable shipping journey towards Vision 2040, the SSI’s manifesto for action.

Sustainable Shipping Initiative

The Sustainable Shipping Initiative (SSI) is a coalition of shipping leaders from around the world, which is addressing the sustainability issues in the shipping industry and taking steps to move the industry towards a sustainable future.

The SSI was started by global sustainability non-profit Forum for the Future in 2010. From September 2013, the SSI has become an independent charity led by newly appointed director Helle Gleie, who has 35 years’ experience in the shipping industry.

The cross-industry SSI members include 21 companies representing ship owners, charterers and operators; shipbuilders, technology and solutions providers; banks and insurers; classification societies; and shipping customers.

Challenges for the Shipping Industry

The shipping industry faces key challenges in terms of the changing global trade, economy and maritime governance; rising transparency and sustainability expectations from stakeholders; and pressures arising from energy prices and climate change.

In his keynote speech to the business representatives from the shipping industry at the event, Jonathon Porritt, Founder Director of Forum for the Future, addressed some of these challenges.

He highlighted the urgency of the challenge to move away from our dependency on hydrocarbons. Business-as-usual, including the use of hydrocarbons in shipping, will take us indisputably past the two degrees threshold that scientists have warned for climate change.

But not all is gloom, we are the generation that has to take responsibility, and Jonathon shared 3 key areas: innovation by businesses to play a part in this sustainable transition; how to finance this transition; and leadership by the industry with companies who step beyond industry norms.

A Case for More Action

An update on the work done by SSI was presented by Stephanie Draper, Director of System Innovation, Forum for the Future. She shared the new “A Case for More Action” report, which lists the findings and tools from the SSI’s four workstreams on financing sustainable shipping, accelerating the uptake of technology, closed-loop materials management, and sustainable shipping rating schemes.

Financing Sustainable Shipping: Save As You Sail

The SSI created a new financial model called Save As You Sail (SAYS), to overcome shipowners’ reluctance to invest in the retrofit of new energy efficiency technologies that only benefit the third-party operators chartering their ships.

The tools available include an Excel model to explore the different technologies and vessel types available, a checklist to ensure legalities, and technology performance guarantees from two providers.

Accelerating the Uptake of Technology: Demonstrating the Business Case for New Technologies and Techniques

The SSI looked at the business case for new technologies and techniques, and the findings will help overcome the barriers to technological innovations becoming reality, and facilitate the wider uptake of ‘voyage optimisation’ techniques that reduce fuel consumption.

The tools available include an evidence base for voyage optimisation, case studies in technology evaluation, and a flow chart for technology evaluation and uptake. Performance data of the Cargill SkySails kite-powered vessel would also be shared after the project has been implemented.

Closed-Loop Materials Management

The SSI created three pilot projects and a stakeholder consultation process to investigate the feasibility and value of using a database system to track and trace shipbuilding materials.

The tools available include a series of reports and case studies on the pilot projects. The workstream also provided advice on the replacement of used ship steels into new ships and identified the needs and rights of workers involved in ship recycling.

Sustainable Shipping Rating Schemes

To help the shipping industry navigate the growing number of beyond-compliance rating schemes, the SSI developed a web-based tool to assist cargo owners, charterers and shipowners in the selection of the rating scheme that most closely meets their needs.

The workstream also compiled a series of case studies to highlight how rating schemes are being used by customers, shipowners and charterers to inform business decisions.

Individual Actions by SSI Members

During the event, several SSI members shared what they are doing to drive sustainability in their businesses.

Roger Janson, Head of ocean transportation business, Cargill, said that they are asking ship owners to comply to environmental requirements and they will only choose ships with better standards. This would help to set the standard in the industry and he hopes that other companies would follow.

Roger also shared about the SkySails kite-powered vessel, which would start testing soon and is expected to save 10-15% on energy and emissions. He believes that wind power would be part of the solution for a sustainable environment. Cargill is also improving their vessels’ performance and making them more sustainable.

C. K. Ong, President, U-Ming Marine Transport Corporation, shared that they are improving the fuel efficiency of their existing ships, and adopting slow steaming to save fuel. They also chose not to buy existing ships that are cheap but not fuel efficient nor eco-friendly.

He also highlighted the need to educate and train staff on operating ships more sustainably.

Sailing Along the Sustainability Journey

Helle Gleie, SSI Director, said that shipping is the backbone of the world trade, with 90% of goods transported through ships. Thus, shipping should become a sustainable and profitable industry by 2040, this is not a matter of either/or, it is a matter of both/and.

She also stressed that the SSI is not a talking club nor a closed-member club only benefiting its members, it actually acts and shares to make sure sustainability become mainstream for all players and the industry.

With the commitment from SSI to drive sustainability in the shipping industry, plus the participation of the SSI members from across the shipping industry value chain and the findings and tools from the new report, the shipping industry is definitely sailing along its journey towards a sustainable and profitable shipping industry by 2040.

The sea is getting rough and challenges abound, but at least the shipping industry is getting started and moving in the right direction.

Images: Screenshots of A Case for More Action report cover

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