The shipping industry took a positive step forward towards a decarbonised future at the landmark Shipping Ambition 1.5°C summit in Bonn last week, which ran alongside the UNFCCC COP23 climate conference. The SSI was present as one of the key advisers to the summit, with SSI members Lloyd’s Register and RightShip as co-organisers, as well as 150 other ambitious, commercially-savvy leaders, strategists, and entrepreneurs from the shipping industry; all contributing to the debate to develop a draft Action Plan to map out how shipping can contribute to its fair share of GHG reductions, and decarbonise as quickly as possible.

Converting aspirations to action is critical and the summit identified areas where real progress can be made right now. Two key themes emerged for me; the importance of developing a “coalition of the willing” and transparency.

The “coalition of the willing” consists of those companies and organisations who are driving for higher standards now, and getting ahead of regulation. There is already a very broad coalition within the industry, committed to cross-stakeholder engagement, and it is incumbent on each of us to persuade others to join. There is acknowledgement that we need to develop more global forums based on focused working groups, including an Asia advocacy group. And there will also be enhanced collaboration between think-tanks and NGOs to provide the best use of resources, such as research and intelligence on a global basis, including in developing countries to share ideas, learnings and drive change.

Data emission transparency is a major challenge and has always held back by commercial considerations. The EU’s Monitoring, Reporting and Verification (MRV) and the IMO’s system which come into force in 2018 and 2019 respectively will go some way to providing ship operators with the information they need to make informed choices about their vessel selection. Shipping Ambition will take this further and define transparency and drive the adoption of that transparency in relation to emissions and operational data.

GHG emissions reduction has always been a critical part of the SSI’s Roadmap for developing a sustainable shipping industry. The enthusiasm for change at Bonn was genuinely uplifting and provides further encouragement and incentive for us all to work together for a better future.