Erratic weather patterns, melting ice caps and soaring temperatures are some of the indicators that the climate change threat is much more magnified that what it seems to be. The entire logistics industry is a major contributor to

global carbon emission with the maritime industry holding the maximum share of it. In line with the Paris Agreement, the industry is aggressively looking at ways to reduce its carbon footprint and hit the zero-emissions milestone by 2050.

Where do we stand today?

Environment and the Maritime Industry-6 Best Practices for a Greener Tomorrow.
Environment and the Maritime Industry-6 Best Practices for a Greener Tomorrow.

Global trade is a continuous phenomenon and with increasing global trade, emissions are also sky-rocketing at an exponential rate. Thereby making the need for switching to sustainable modes, monitoring and controlling carbon emissions, developing smart environmental policies are the call of the hour.

Impact on Trade Routes

As global warming melts the ice caps, inaccessible and impossible shipping routes such as the ones directly cutting through the North Pole are also estimated to open up by 2050 for commercial use. Various research results in the domain suggest that if the current trend continues, by 2030 the routes over the North Pole could open up for ice-breaking cargo ships that are capable of making their way even through four feet thick ice. Proving this, in early 2018, the Eduard Toll, became the first commercial vessel to travel across the northern sea route without the assistance of an icebreaker.

It saved close to three thousand nautical miles on this route instead of going via the traditional Suez Canal. What may look like a ground breaking development for the shipping and trade industry clearly has daunting effects on the polar ecosystem and the environment. The agreement by EU to ban fishing vessels to exploit the Arctic Ocean was seen as a welcome change by environmentalists, however, it must be noted that it’s not just fishing vessels that cause damage to the fragile polar ecosystems. It is highly unethical to simply exploit natural resources made available due to the melting of ice caps.

The IMO Mandate


Decarbonizing maritime trade requires a serious effort on all fronts. In a concerted initiative, maritime organizations and companies are coming together to put effective processes in place to reduce CO2 emissions in a controlled manner. The International Maritime Organization’s three-phase plan has been developed to ensure new ships are more energy efficient under its goal to create an Energy Efficiency Design Index.

According to the plan in Phase I, the ships built between 2015 and 2019 will have an overall 10% improvement target in vessel energy efficiency,
In Phase II the ships built between 2020 and 2024 will have an overall 15% to 20% improvement target in vessel energy efficiency
In Phase III, for ships built between 2030, the vessel energy efficiency target will have an overall 30% improvement

6 Ways How Shipping Companies are contributing to a Greener Maritime Trade

Shipping and logistics companies have stepped up their efforts as firms and individuals to tackle the dire effects of global warming. More than 150 companies have participated in RE 100, an initiative that commits to 100% renewable energy, a movement that is gaining momentum

1. Measuring Carbon Footprint

Measuring the share of carbon emissions in the supply chain is the first step to reduce industry emissions. Bearing Point’s Logistics Emission Calculator(LogEC) offers logistics providers and shippers the ability to calculate and analyze their carbon footprint, as well as

to plan, evaluate and manage initiatives to reduce their emission levels. The GHG Emissions Rating is another innovative measure developed by RightShip and Carbon War Room to keep vessel quality in check.

2. Equipment Efficiency

Enabling more equipment innovation such as building slow-steaming ships, improving hull design, propeller optimisation and waste heat recovery to even wind-powered ship can be highly beneficial.

Hurtigruten, a cruise firm, is working on hybrid ships, while Siemens is pioneering deployment of electric ferries. Maersk, the world’s largest shipping group, hascommitted to CO2 neutrality by 2050.

3. Fuel Efficiency

The global maritime industry vessels rely on heavy bunker oil and diesel. Apart from high fuel costs, stricter environmental regulations have motivated ship owners to demand greater fuel efficiency, lower emissions and faster turn-around times in port. Besides research, re-engineering

traditional sail-power with modern technology and materials alternative solutions such as the use of Liquid Natural Gas (LNG) instead of bunker oil and the use of hybrid technology employing battery power is being experimented in the industry.

4. Cold Ironing

A thoughtful shift from the regular methods of carrying our daily operational activitie scan serve the greater purpose of saving the environment. For instance, practices like Cold ironing, allows a ship or barge in port to turn off its engines and use electric power

to plan, evaluate and manage supplied by a power cable from on shore to run its essential systems such as heating, lighting and equipment can help eliminate a significant amount of harmful emissions.

5. Renewable Alternate Sources of Energy

Wind energy has a huge potential that can be tapped to facilitate a shift away from fossil fuels. Companies like Cargill and Wessels have already attempted trialling kite systems

as well as Enercon and Norsepower have both installed different rotor designs on ships powered by renewable wind energy.

6. Stakeholder Cooperation

The Swedish shipping industry has been active in decarbonising shipping. Sweden’s progress is driven by stakeholder cooperation, and financial support, as well as regulation.

The “Zero Vision Tool”, their new platform is a great example of a cooperative effort between the shipping industry, government and the research community, to make maritime transport greener.

There has been a remarkable shift toward sustainable maritime operations. Fuel efficiency, route optimization, low-carbon fleet, the industry is embracing alternative ways to cut down carbon emissions. Technology has been leveraged greatly to achieve this goal. However, for the impact to continue and be more visible, a consistent and consolidated effort from all industry stakeholders will prove significant in making maritime trade sustainable.