SSI report highlights need for sustainability of marine fuels to be considered in decarbonisation

The Sustainable Shipping Initiative (SSI) – a multi stakeholder partnership comprising shipowners and charterers; ports; shipyards, marine product, equipment and service providers; banks, ship finance and insurance providers; classification societies; and sustainability non-profits, has launched a new report, titled Defining sustainability criteria for marine fuels, outlining fifteen issues, principles and criteria that provide guidance on the sustainability of marine fuels under consideration for shipping’s decarbonisation.

The Sustainable Shipping Initiative (SSI) – a multi stakeholder partnership comprising shipowners and charterers; ports; shipyards, marine product, equipment and service providers; banks, ship finance and insurance providers; classification societies; and sustainability non-profits, has launched a new report, titled Defining sustainability criteria for marine fuels, outlining fifteen issues, principles and criteria that provide guidance on the sustainability of marine fuels under consideration for shipping’s decarbonisation.

As the industry transitions to zero emission shipping, there is a need to better understand the sustainability issues surrounding the marine fuels being explored and to ensure that zero and low carbon fuels do not shift emissions and other externalities up- or downstream along the supply chain.

At the same time, low GHG emissions and carbon intensity only cover a fraction of the sustainability issues across the full well-to-wake lifecycle of a fuel. Environmental considerations, such as air quality and ecological impacts; social considerations, such as social, labour and human rights; and socio-economic considerations, such as economic wellbeing and food security, must be taken into account when determining a fuel’s sustainability.

Building on previous work carried out by SSI members and academic partner Copenhagen Business School (CBS) Maritime, under the Green Shipping Project, the report aims to ensure that sustainability is considered at the same level as availability, cost and technical feasibility in discussions around decarbonisation.

A broader understanding of sustainability issues from a full lifecycle perspective allows for informed decision-making around value chain risks, helping to direct choices for investment, purchase and consumption. This work will also encourage and facilitate discussion around sustainability certification of zero and low carbon marine fuels, which can provide assurance to the organisations investing in marine fuels, promote trust across the value chain and aid in the selection of sustainable fuel options for shipping.

Ingrid Marie Andersen, Head of Decarbonisation Targets and Life Cycle Analysis, A.P. Moller Maersk said, “The shipping industry needs scalable, sustainable solutions to decarbonise. In the transition of shipping, we must ensure that we do not just shift shipping’s emissions upstream in the fuel supply chain. It is crucial that we apply a lifecycle perspective to the entire well-to-wake greenhouse gas footprint of the fuel, consider all greenhouse gasses, and in addition ensure that the production and use of the fuel is not associated with adverse and undesirable effects on e.g. biodiversity.”

Dr. Henrik Sornn-Friese, Director and Associate Professor, Copenhagen Business School Maritime commented, “Today, the sustainability debate tends to focus on environmental factors, while social and especially economic sustainability are often overlooked. We need a set of sustainability criteria for assessing alternative marine fuels that is holistic, explicable and can be used by a broad range of stakeholders. Holistic in the sense that they consider the whole lifecycle as well as the synergies and trade-offs among the economic, social and environmental sustainability dimensions. Explicable in the sense that they are comprehensive but simple, few in number and mutually exclusive. CBS Maritime is happy to have provided the review and scrutiny of academic literature, providing a foundation on which sustainability criteria for the maritime industry can be built.”

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