‘Put a price on carbon to make it profitable to order a zero emission vessel by 2030’: Lasse Kristoffersen

Members of the Getting to Zero Coalition made the case for a carbon tax on shipping at a high-level webinar convened by the World Economic Forum yesterday.

The Geneva-based forum is a strong supporter of shipping’s Getting to Zero Coalition, a collective determined to lead the industry’s decarbonisation drive.

In a widely read blog post last month, the forum noted: “Governments are at a crossroads. They have a historic opportunity for a Great Transformation, by building back better from the current crisis and steering the world in a more sustainable direction. The ambition of the Getting to Zero Coalition resolutely supports this vision: to have commercially viable [zero emission vessels] operating along deep sea trade routes by 2030, supported by the necessary infrastructure for scalable zero-carbon energy sources including production, distribution, storage and bunkering.”

This theme of public – private cooperation to hasten shipping’s decarbonisation proved the centre of the debate at yesterday’s virtual Ocean Dialogues session hosted by the forum, coming hours after it had emerged Germany is giving its shipping industry EUR1bn in green stimulus funding.

“We ask the International Maritime Organization to put a price on carbon to make it profitable to order a zero emission vessel by 2030,” said Lasse Kristoffersen, CEO of Torvald Klaveness, in one of the most high profile quotes from the session. “Local and regional regulation will not be helpful,” the Norwegian shipowner added.

“You need to have an active private-public sector dialogue about how to have the proper incentives for zero emission vessels at scale,” said Randy Chen, a director at Taiwanese container carrier Wan Hai Lines.

Otto Schacht, executive vice president for sea logistics at freight forwarding giant Kuehne+Nagel, was one of many calling for a carbon levy yesterday.

“We favour very much a carbon tax,” he said during the session looking at how green stimulus measures could help fuel the decarbonisation of shipping.

“Customers want a zero carbon supply chain already now,” Schacht pointed out.

With green-leaning stimulus funds emerging from a number of governments in recent weeks, many in shipping are suggesting the industry has a unique opportunity to accelerate its environmental transformation as the world emerges from the coronavirus crisis.

In a widely-read April contribution on this site, Di Gilpin from the Smart Green Shipping Alliance wrote: “The key question is do we try and fix the old system or take this once in an epoch opportunity to build back better systems that properly value life’s essentials?”

To watch more about Lasse Kristoffersen’s thoughts on how shipping will reemerge from the coronavirus crisis, check out this April 23 episode from the Maritime CEO Leader Series powered by Ocean Technologies Group.

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. Hi Sam – I think Lasse was actually responding to the introductory remarks of Minister Kabua from the Marshall Is. She said: “Its now time to begin the debate on a carbon tax for shipping at IMO. The debate will not be an easy one. But as the late Tony de Brum was fond of telling us at Paris – ‘we don’t do easy’. It is a debate that will test the maturity of both the iMO and the industry”.

    Its also worth noting for the record that Pacific submissions have called repeatedly for the debate on MBM’s (and allocation of the revenues raised) to be moved forward and discussed under Short Term Measures. This has been ignored to date by the Chair. Maybe that also changes now his own countrymen are making the case as well?

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