Shippers are demanding greater transparency from shipowners

Singapore: The Sustainable Shipping Initiative (SSI), a coalition of companies from across the global shipping industry focused on uniting commercial growth with sustainable behaviours, has identified that since 2012, industry progress has been driven by greater demand throughout shipping supply chains for transparency as well accelerating investments in alternatives to bunker fuel. The combined effect of greater commercial and public scrutiny of shipping and sustainability-focused legislation has also led to increasing pressure for regulations to be enforced more strictly.

The ‘Changing Context’ report was developed in partnership with Forum for the Future through its Futures Centre digital platform to report on the seven global trends highlighted in the SSI’s Case for Action in early 2012. In response to this, the SSI has since developed its Vision 2040 as well as a practical, action-orientated roadmap, to address the issues identified. Three years on, the report revisits the trends to monitor how and where progress has been made.

Changes that were identified as moving most rapidly included higher expectations and increased scrutiny enabled by today’s highly networked, digital age have pushed investors, shipping customers and in turn, ports and charterers to push for transparency in ship performance. This has partially resulted in the development in incentives for the adoption of energy efficient technology and stronger sentiment towards the enforcement of sustainability standards and regulations.

Also, emissions regulations and the growth of renewable energy on land and forthcoming emission reduction targets have created momentum around investments in alternatives to marine fuel, with the most evident traction in the near-term around LNG. These developments coincide with the rising influence of emerging economies, which are leading the way on clean energy growth, fuelling both supply and demand.

Speaking at an SSI-hosted event in Singapore yesterday to launch both the report and The Futures Centre’s interactive discussion portal, the Future of Shipping topic hub, Alastair Fischbacher, chief executive, of the Sustainable Shipping Initiative said: “Increased scrutiny and environmental regulation have undoubtedly put the industry under a fresh set of pressures over the last few years, and whilst many aspects of these are still being worked through, we are beginning to see some positive developments.”

Trends that are affecting shipping but at a steadier pace include the continued shift in economic and political power towards China, as well as the continued development of South-South trade, which is influencing demands on maritime services. Also, as more sustainability-driven legislation progresses, indications show that there is a little more certainty around the uptake of viable and proven efficiency-related technologies when compared with 2012.

The report highlights that challenges associated with improving ocean governance were not progressing as quickly as desired, largely due to increasing complexity. However, one of the areas of greatest concern was the industry’s response to climate change. A lack of policy and information directly related to shipping’s contribution and the impact of extreme climate change on the industry has stalled any proactive response, SSI maintained in a release.

“As climate change is on a track headed towards a ‘worst case’ scenario, the impact on shipping could be significant. For example rising sea levels, the opening of new shipping lanes due to melting ice caps and global trade patterns are all realities. Existing knowledge about climate change and hazards specific to the maritime sector remain insufficient for quantifying the economic consequences and specific needs to plan changes to safe ship designs and operations,” commented Fischbacher.

To track and develop responses to these changes as well as other relevant macro trends, the newly launched Future of Shipping topic hub provides a platform for the industry and wider business community to share their observations and experiences with a view to collaboratively identifying and exploring solutions to key issues.


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.
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