LONDON, 8 September 2021 – The Sustainable Shipping Initiative (SSI) today launches 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.

Read the report:

Register for a webinar on the topic, to take place on Thursday 23 September:



Ingrid Marie Andersen, Head of Decarbonisation Targets and Life Cycle Analysis, A.P. Moller Maersk: “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: “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.”

Katharine Palmer, Global Sustainability Manager, Lloyd’s Register: “As the shipping industry transitions to zero-carbon shipping, we do not want to shift the problem upstream so it’s fundamental that the lifecycle sustainability impacts of potential zero-carbon fuels are considered equally in conjunction with their safety, technical feasibility and commercial viability. This means looking beyond greenhouse gases and including all environmental and social impacts. Certification plays a key role in this and it’s important we have sustainability criteria now so it can guide the direction of shipping’s pathways to zero.”

Andreea Miu, Decarbonisation Lead, Sustainable Shipping Initiative: “There is a tendency to emphasise GHG emissions when discussing decarbonisation. However, the industry needs to move beyond emissions and ensure that the fuels shipping invests in also consider environmental, social, and socio-economic sustainability aspects across the well-to-wake lifecycle of a fuel. Through this work, SSI hopes to bring sustainability to the decarbonisation debate and start a discussion around the role of standards and certification for sustainable marine fuels.”

Simon Bennett, General Manager – Sustainable Development, Swire Shipping Pte Ltd: “The latest IPCC report to UNFCCC is a red alert to the planet. The science is clear; to limit the global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius, we must act now to cut global emissions. We in the shipping sector must also play our part and many, Swire Shipping included, have set a target of zero carbon emissions by latest 2050, and preferably well before then. We are doing what we can technically and operationally, but this alone is not enough. We need alternate fuels that are low or zero carbon on a well-to-wake basis, whilst also being safe, scalable, and sustainable. Swire Shipping is happy to have helped provide a foundation in this report to help guide the evaluation of how each sustainability issue can be considered.”

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Notes to Editors

For more information, interviews or comment please contact Elizabeth Petit, Head of Communications, Sustainable Shipping Initiative (

An infographic providing an overview of the well-to-wake lifecycle of a marine fuel can be downloaded here. The full report can be downloaded here.

About the Sustainable Shipping Initiative

The Sustainable Shipping Initiative (SSI) is a multi-stakeholder collective of ambitious and like-minded leaders, driving change through cross-sectoral collaboration to contribute to – and thrive in – a more sustainable maritime industry. Spanning the entire shipping value chain, SSI members are shipowners and charterers; ports; shipyards, marine product, equipment and service providers; banks, ship finance and insurance providers; classification societies; and sustainability non-profits. | @SustShipping

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