Shipping hits out at unilateral move by charterers

The global shipping industry is still digesting the news today that some of its largest clients will for the first time assess and disclose the climate alignment of their shipping activities.

The brand new Sea Cargo Charter sets a “new benchmark for responsible shipping, transparent climate reporting, and improved decision making in line with United Nations decarbonization targets”, according to a release from the Global Maritime Forum.

The Sea Cargo Charter is a global framework that allows for the integration of climate considerations into chartering decisions to favour climate-aligned maritime transport. Founding signatories of the charter include Anglo American, ADM, Bunge, Cargill Ocean Transportation, COFCO International, Dow, Equinor, Gunvor Group, Klaveness Combination Carriers, Louis Dreyfus Company, Norden, Occidental, Shell, Torvald Klaveness, and Trafigura.

The move sees charterers leapfrog regulators and the shipping industry itself in terms of detailing how emissions reporting will be carried out.

Guy Platten, secretary general of the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS), shipowning’s largest lobby group, argued today that due process at the IMO ought to have been carried out rather than charterers pressing ahead with their own greenhouse gas (GHG) reporting schemes.  

“The initiative has some interesting ideas but we believe that it would have a better chance of success if it was to be aligned with the reporting requirements set out by governments and even the Poseidon Principles, to be agreed at the IMO following significant consultation and review, to ensure that the reporting requirements are as efficient as possible,” Platten said.

The ICS has offered to work with the signatories to today’s landmark charter to ensure that they can deliver on their stated objective and produce what ICS claimed today would be an even more effective initiative.

Echoing Platten’s comments, Bob Sanguinetti, the chief executive of the UK Chamber of Shipping, told Splash: “Tackling climate change is a top priority for the chamber and generating transparency is fundamental to this. Shipping remains the most efficient means of transporting goods and this initiative is laudable, actively supporting the industry commitment to 2050 climate change goals. However, due to the international nature of shipping we believe the best way to achieve industry goals is through collective agreement at the IMO, but we look forward to receiving more details about the Sea Cargo Charter.”

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. ….collective agreement at the IMO?
    How long will that take and how many more forest fires will have burned before IMO is able to concur?
    Commercial pressure and a solid, intelligent initiative should move the emissions agenda along with the urgency it needs and deserves.

  2. Beyond cheap transportation, charterers have a zero to nothing capacity to develop transcend or complex thoughts.

  3. Prominent charterers are doing the right thing; the planet can no longer wait for the IMO to take meaningful action. Shipowners, with very few exceptions, are right to be wary of this initiative. Very few, if any, of their climate declarations hold water.

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