Reduction in CO2 emissions from container shipping: Clean Cargo

Sarah Carter
Sarah Carter

23 August 2018


Clean Cargo, in Clean Cargo’s annual ‘2017 Global Maritime Trade Lane Emissions Factors’ report, said that average CO2 emissions for global ocean transportation routes fell by one percent from 2016 to 2017.

The buyer-supplier forum for sustainability in the cargo shipping industry revealed that emissions per container per kilometre have dropped 37.1% on average since 2009, when it began tracking the use of low-sulphur and lower-carbon fuels.

The report includes data from over 3,200 ships operated by the 22 ocean container carrier lines.

According to the Trade Lane CO2 Emissions Factors report, the average CO2 emissions per container per kilometre from the 22 lines, which represent 85% of the world’s containerised shipping, fell by 1% from 2016 to last year.

Since 2009, emissions per container move have also reported a reduction of 37.1%, the global nonprofit business network BSR unit Clean Cargo Working Group said.

Several years ago, Clean Cargo published its peer-reviewed, standardized methodology and reporting system that has been adopted globally by the industry, with carriers submitting operational data from the entire fleet to BSR on an annual basis.

The results produce environmental performance scorecards for each carrier, which are used to meet corporate supply chain sustainability goals by 95 percent of shipping customers who participate in the group.

“We need more innovation in low-emission technology, as well as continued collaboration, to meet the ambitious goal of halving CO2 emissions from shipping by 2050,” BSR manager Nate Springer said.

“The progress on climate and air quality we are seeing in container shipping — one of the highest emitting industries — is absolutely critical for achieving global environmental goals.”

Since Clean Cargo began publicly reporting data from the industry in 2009, emissions per container per kilometer have dropped 37.1 percent on average. This was the first year that Clean Cargo began tracking use of low-sulphur and lower-carbon fuels. The data show that five percent of fuel used by the global container fleet in 2017 was light fuel oil (LFO), while liquefied natural gas (LNG) was used by some vessels on the Intra-Northern Europe trade lane.

These data show that the container shipping industry continues to make progress that is essential to reaching clean air and climate goals. However, significantly more financing and innovation will be needed for the shipping industry to remain on track to meet the ambitious climate goals recently announced in the International Maritime Organization (IMO) climate strategy.