China Nav comes out in favour of Marshall Islands’ carbon tax proposal, readies first sail-assisted newbuild

China Navigation is to sign for a revolutionary sail-assisted newbuild this month as part of a package of green measures announced today.

The Swire subsidiary has also come out in favour of the proposal put forward to the International Maritime Organization (IMO) by the Marshall Islands and the Solomon Islands to establish a universal, mandatory greenhouse gas (GHG) levy with an entry price of $100 per tonne/CO2e with regular upward ratchets following review.

China Navigation’s subsidiary Swire Shipping serves many communities in the Pacific and is acutely aware of how it is these small island nations that are demanding the greatest environmental changes to shipping.

“With many communities at risk of disappearing we must take action to drive change. We are committed to reducing our GHG footprint, ultimately to net zero by, and preferably well before, 2050,” commented James Woodrow, managing director of China Navigation.

China Navigation believes that the upstream development of the necessary global delivery infrastructure for sustainable low or zero carbon fuels will be expedited if market-based measures are introduced that more realistically price shipping’s GHG emissions.

Swire Shipping is launching a carbon offset programme for clients called Sail Greener in the coming months.

Meanwhile, China Navigation is pressing ahead with Project Cerulean, seeking to build the first low-carbon, low-cost sail-assisted inter-island cargo vessel to serve communities in the Pacific that lack cargo handling infrastructure.

The company aims to sign a newbuild contract for this pilot vessel this month for delivery in the middle of next year.

“The Pacific Islands’ communities are relying on organisations such as ours to provide leadership and to take positive action now,” commented Jeremy Sutton, general manager, Swire Shipping.

The carbon tax proposal put forward by the Solomon Islands and the Marshall Islands will be discussed at the IMO’s Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) gathering later this month, a meeting that will be covered closely by Splash.

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.


  1. Unlike their wholly owned subsidiary, the Bank Line, CNCo have absolutely no experience in commercial sailing ship operations. Let’s hope they learn fast!

  2. Fortunately Swire, who we have found to be an exemplar of a research partner, have partners that do. The vessel is essentially a new build of the S.V.Kwai, a retrofitted old Norwegian fishing vessel that for many years has served the most remote and thinnest route to the Line Islands in Kiribati. SV Kwai is now in service at Marshall Islands Shipping Corp as a training vessel. We still dont know that it is going to work, and wont until its been out and tested. All our research will be peer reviewed and I’d welcome your comments then Andrew. But I have to salute Swire for taking up the challenge, stumping the R&D resource, investing in and trusting our local university and researchers. They have been part of our Pacific community now for a very long time, we will be happy to see them here into the future. Its been a great project to work on so far – British company, Pacific researchers, a design review team of both super experienced Pacific commercial operators and leading German and UK academics, French design company, Lloyd’s in Singapore – a regular UN.

    Yes please – more shipping companies and partners like these – Ni sa Bula and vinaka vaka Levu Swire and team.

    Of course, that’s 1 ship – we need quite a few more. Its important to remember as we focus on decarbonisation debates for large ships, that while ships under 10,000 tonne only move about 4% world cargo, they still crete over 20% of the emissions AND service the majority of the poorest communities in the world. Getting to zero must be equitable, leaving none behind

    1. I have to “declare an interest”, Peter, as a one time employee of John Swire and Sons. I second your remarks on the Swire Group and I emphatically wish this project well.

      Incidentally I have been corrected on my assertion that CNCo (founded 1872) never had a sailing ship. Maurice Burbidge has written:

      “My second command was Yochow, built in 1934 I think, she had a sail!”

      (It is fair to add that the Yochow II had an experimental diesel engine which was notorious for breaking down at sea!)

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