Shipping companies and supply chain showcase climate ambition ahead of critical climate negotiations

By UN Global Compact | June 5, 2023

Leaders from the global shipping industry are taking action to align their businesses with what is needed to limit the worst impacts of climate change, according to those present at an executive-level event convened on the margins of Nor Shipping. The event was convened ahead of July’s critical government negotiations at the International Maritime Organization (IMO) when its main decision-making body, the Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) is expected to adopt the draft 2023 IMO Strategy on the reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from ships.

Reducing greenhouse gas emissions from shipping is crucial to tackling climate change. Maritime transport is currently responsible for approximately 3% of global emissions, but its emissions are projected to grow by up to 30% by 2050.

Last November, the Science-based Target Initiative (SBTi) released the world’s first framework for companies in the maritime sector to set near- and long-term science-based  targets in line with 1.5°C. It shows that alignment with 1.5°C can be met by private sector corporations if they adopt strategies to achieve decarbonisation by the first half of the 2040s. Shipping companies have already committed to set climate targets with the Science-based Target Initiative (SBTi) across their operations and value chains aligned with limiting global temperature rise to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels and reaching net-zero emissions by no later than 2050.

Sanda Ojiambo, CEO and Executive Director, UN Global Compact, a founding member of the SBTi said: Companies in the shipping sector are already setting targets with SBTi to support their transition plans and go beyond existing regulation to align with the 1.5 C temperature goal. We need to see more of them incorporating the SBTi maritime guidance this September at the Climate Ambition Summit hosted by the UN Secretary-General. Governments must now match private sector ambition by working with the International Maritime Organization to align on an ambitious decarbonization goal of total zero emissions by 2050 with targets of a 37% reduction in 2030 and 96% reduction in 2040 in order to align to the 1.5°C goal of the Paris Agreement.”

Razan Al Mubarak, UN Climate Change High Level Climate Champion for COP28, said: “2023 is a critical year for international shipping to decide whether it goes from being a hard-to-abate sector to a climate leader. The IMO’s MEPC 80 is  just over a month away where countries must come together to set shipping on a 1.5 aligned trajectory with ambitious 2030 and 2040 targets. Over 11,000 companies have joined the Race to Zero campaign who have committed to collectively halve emissions by 2030, but only 7 shipping companies. I call upon shipping actors to turn their commitments into action by incorporating 1.5 SBTi targets into their business – the race is underway and now is the time for shipping to join.”

Several shipping companies have already set targets for well below 2C with the SBTi and are exploring setting a 1.5 aligned target. Mr. Lasse Kristoffersen, CEO of Wallenius Wilhelmsen said: “We are all doing too little too late on climate change and in Wallenius Wilhelmsen we believe leading companies like us have a big responsibility to bring solutions. We have set a goal to introduce a net-zero emission end-to-end service by 2027.  We will not be able to do this alone and are ready to commit to partners that can bring clean fuel, new technology that drives efficiency, and data infrastructure that we can transact upon. For me this is personal. I really want to make a difference and do all I can to put our industry on track to meet the 1,5 degree target. And I believe it is possible.”

Masahiro Takahashi, Executive Officer, of NYK Line, said: “As a responsible stakeholder in the Global Supply Chain, we believe it is essential to align company target with the 1.5-degree target and it is necessary to obtain recertification of SBTi based on the updated targets and transition plan. Pathways to achieving zero emissions will vary across industries, particularly in the Hard to Abate sectors like the maritime sector. So we expect that the SBTi maritime guidance could serve as a valuable reference for many shipping companies.  A clear 1.5 aligned regulatory framework at the upcoming MEPC will be important to support shipping transition subject to growing confidence in the availability of sufficient fuels, including both drop-in fuels and zero-emission fuels, to achieve the trajectory. In conjunction with frameworks that promote cross-industry collaboration, particularly with the energy sector and government entities.”

Leading cargo owners are also increasingly setting targets for their ocean shipping emissions. Elisabeth Munck af Rosenschöld, Global Sustainability Manager, IKEA Supply Chain Operations, said: “We need to accelerate the transformation towards zero emission ocean shipping. It is urgent and it is doable. We have signed the coZEV ambition statement to only ship our home furnishing goods on zero emission ocean shipping by 2040.  An important milestone is our goal to reduce product transport emissions by 70% per shipment by 2030. By this, we want to build confidence that achieving full maritime decarbonization is possible. We believe collaboration is key to solve complex challenges, and by coming together with like-minded companies, we can create strong movements

Internationally leading maritime classification societies such as Lloyd’s Register have also aligned their business operations and strategies with a 1.5 target using the SBTi. Andy McKeran, Chief Commercial Officer of Lloyd’s Register said: “As we move towards MEPC 80, it is important that the widely anticipated amendments to the IMO’s GHG Strategy mirror the increased level of ambition which we are seeing from many in our industry. We know that the 2020s must be the decade of action for shipping if we are to meet the 1.5°C goal of the Paris Agreement. To achieve this, we must all set ambitious, but achievable, science-based targets to reduce our own GHG emissions and continue to collaborate across the industry to drive advances in zero emissions vessels.”

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