The Sustainability Imperative

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Sustainability concerns have rocketed up the shipping agenda over the past decade, with environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) issues already influencing financing decisions, fleet renewal and regulatory change across the industry.

Decarbonisation of shipping is by far the most complex and pressing area. Most of the focus to date has been on the ‘E’ in ESG, but the ‘S’ (Social) and ‘G’ (Governance) elements also present growing challenges to the industry in areas such as transparency, diversity and crew welfare.

Some of these problems are down to simple organisational choices, but the environmental challenge – principally the reduction of CO2 emissions – is too large for any one company, even any one set of stakeholders, to address.

There are significant technological, financial and regulatory hurdles to clear before shipping has a viable path towards the International Maritime Organisation’s goal of 50% lower greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, including the recurring question of who shoulders the risk and cost of developing new technologies.

In addition, shipping faces structural upheaval. Longstanding pressures on smaller shipowners to consolidate may become difficult to ignore in the pursuit of a sustainable industry, while the privacy traditionally embraced by sections of the industry may come under pressure from demands for greater transparency from investors, lenders, regulators and customers.

"We decided to focus our global maritime report on the single most important issue affecting the industry – sustainability."George Paleokrassas

62%

of shipowners are likely or very likely to form joint ventures to fund innovation in the next five years.

Drawing on a series of in-depth interviews and a global survey of 545 senior industry leaders, this report examines the shipping world’s views on sustainability and governance and what actions it is taking as result. It also asks how these issues might affect the way the shipping sector finances itself and even the very structure of the industry.

"The survey points to a wider willingness to collaborate and form joint ventures to share the financial burden of decarbonising shipping."Lindsey Keeble

90%

of financiers are either going beyond standard governance checks, or are planning to do so in the near future.

The report highlights six key findings:
  1. Reducing carbon emissions is the main and most immediate challenge, though trade tensions, Covid-19 and access to finance are also important;
  2. Financiers attach more importance to sustainability issues than operators do;
  3. Despite commitment to sustainability, traditional ship finance banks have a limited appetite for funding new clean-technology upgrades themselves – or accommodate their financing by others;
  4. Decarbonisation looks set to drive greater cooperation among industry participants;
  5. Industry looks to governments to lead the funding of clean technology and fuel research; and
  6. Shipowners are wary of committing to many new green technologies.

"There is preference across the board for government support in funding research into alternative fuels and increased efficiencies. That said, public funding for shipping has always been a challenge given the global nature of the industry."Simon Petch

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    Videos

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    Webinar 1

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    Webinar 2

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    Part 1: Is the shipping industry up for the challenge?

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    Part 2: How will shipping fund environmental change?

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    Part 3: Is the shipping industry embracing change?

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