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Sustainable Shipping Initiative sets environmental targets

Sustainable Shipping Initiative sets environmental targets

30th April 2012 18:16 GMT

Ship recycling is one of the main themes being tackled by the SSI

Shipping industry leaders took a step towards improving the sustainability of the industry with the launch of a work plan last week focused on reducing the sector’s negative environmental impacts.

The 16 industry members of the Sustainable Shipping Initiative (SSI), a project coordinated by non-profit organisations Forum for the Future and WWF International, have given themselves 18 months to reach four specific targets that will guide the industry toward environmental and financial sustainability by 2040.

Working groups are set to present their findings by September next year based on these targets, which will include improved methods for building and disposing of ships, financing models that promote sustainable shipping, facilitating the uptake of new, low energy technologies and implementing credible rating systems for good shipping practices.

According to the organisation, SSI members include ship builders, owners and operators including Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering, Maersk Line, China Navigation Company, as well as financing and insurance firms includingABN Amro and marine insurer RSA.

China Navigation Company General Manager for Sustainable Development (SD)  Simon Bennett, who is part of the working group tasked with creating a model for the sustainable building and disposal of ships, told a media source that when the auto industry undertook a similar initiative two decades ago because of increasing regulations, they found that companies benefited from more efficient use of resources and reduced waste.

"Shipping needs to do this without being told and without waiting for the regulations," he said, adding that China Navigation, Maersk and Carnival Cruise Lines are already working with suppliers on the issue in an effort to prove the concept.

He also added that Chinese ship recycling facilities are already beginning to see the business case for environmentally responsible management.

A European Union report which rated shipyards globally on disposal methods found that China’s shipyards scored well, whereas some shipyards in South Asia averaged a death per week and experienced daily injuries.

The Commission estimated that globally shipyards dismantle over 1000 large commercial vessels each year.

In order to reduce the environmental and social impacts of European ships, which represent 17 percent of the world’s vessels by capacity, the Commission proposed the regulations in the absence of an international agreement on ship disposal.

With a number of regulations set to be enforced Bennett said that his firm was one of several companies that had decided that it was a sound business move to choose Chinese shipyards despite a slightly higher cost. As a result, the motivation for China’s shipyards to promote sustainability has been monetised, he added.

Another working group is set motivate the industry to adopt low energy technologies.

Bennett said that low energy technologies are available but pointed out hesitance within the industry to take the lead in evaluating and testing them.

To address the need for financial incentives to switch to new technologies, the working group announced that it plans to work with the financial community to find ways of sharing the benefits and risks of financing such technologies.