17th May 2011

Jointly issued with: ABN Amro, BP Shipping, Cargill, DSME, Gearbulk, IMC, Lloyd’s Register, Maersk Line, Morgan Stanley, Rio Tinto Marine, RSA, Tsakos Energy Navigation, Wartsila and WWF

Some of the biggest names in shipping today called on the industry to take far-reaching action to create a maritime sector which is socially and environmentally responsible and profitable.

Members of the Sustainable Shipping Initiative, a global coalition drawn from across the sector, launched a Case for Action analysing the global trends which will shape the future of shipping, and announced: “Our goal is to transform the global shipping industry and the wider maritime sector, establishing a new, sustainable approach as the norm.”

They called on industry leaders to:

  • create a shared vision of how the industry should develop over the next 30 years;
  • prepare for greater scrutiny and demands from customers and society with regard to social and environmental performance;
  • build and convert ships to the highest standards of energy efficiency in anticipation of high and volatile fuel prices and demands for low-carbon performance;
  • drive the development of co-ordinated, progressive legislation that rewards sustainability;
  • develop innovative business models that encourage long-term investment and take into account social and environmental obligations.

Soren Stig Nielsen, Head of Sustainability, Maersk Line, said: “By creating a shared vision for sustainable growth, we can plot a new ambitious course. A course where shipping is viewed as a key enabler of responsible and sustainable economic development.”

The Sustainable Shipping Initiative brings together leaders from across the maritime sector with Forum for the Future and WWF. Its members are: ship owners and charterers BP Shipping, Cargill, Gearbulk, IMC, Maersk Line, Morgan Stanley, Rio Tinto Marine and Tsakos Energy Navigation ; shipbuilders, engineers and service providers Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering and Wartsila; ABN Amro bank; RSA insurance; and the classification society Lloyd’s Register.

Tom Boardley, Marine Director at Lloyd’s Register, emphasised the importance of commercial interests working with technical expertise. “One of the real strengths of this initiative is the marriage of ship operating and ship engineering capability – we all need to work together to help make shipping more sustainable,” he said.

Board level representatives launched the Sustainable Shipping Initiative Case for Action today at a summit chaired by Jonathon Porritt, founder director of Forum for the Future. It is designed as a resource for the entire industry and warns that companies should be ready for three key challenges over the next 30 years.

  • Continued growth of free trade and strong global governance cannot be guaranteed. A decline in global trade would lead to greater competition and magnify competitive advantages. Companies should be prepared for this and work with the IMO on progressive regulation to anticipate future challenges.
  • Shipping is likely to face increased scrutiny of its social and environmental performance, mirroring trends seen in other industries. Companies which can demonstrate a strong record on working conditions, fuel efficiency, prosecutions and similar factors are likely to be favoured bv customers and suppliers, including ports, financiers and insurers.
  • Volatile and rising oil prices will push up costs significantly while climate change is increasing pressure on shipping to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Companies can gain competitive advantage by investing in energy efficiency and the transition to new fuels.

The Sustainable Shipping Initiative Case for Action explores the risks and opportunities around each of these three challenges. It also warns that companies which do nothing may face serious consequences. The US auto industry came close to collapse in 2008, partly by failing to adapt to rising oil prices, and was only saved by a $25 billion government bailout.

In the next stage of the Sustainable Shipping Initiative, members will create a shared vision of an industry in 2040 which is resilient, socially and environmentally responsible and profitable, and will commit to a set of actions to achieve this. The ultimate aim is to mobilise industry support for an action plan to achieve this vision, including engineering and technical initiatives, policy proposals and marketing and communications plans.

Jonathon Porritt said: “The leaders involved in this Initiative understand that success and sustainability must go hand in hand. These practical actions which they will help deliver will not only make their businesses more robust, but will ensure a more secure future for all of us.”