The role of maritime shipping in global trade – sustainable growth
The international shipping industry carries around 90% of world trade. By doing so, they support the import and export of goods, vital for today’s globalised world to continue trading as it does. Over the past decades, shipping has continued to grow thanks to increased efficiency and increased economic liberalisation, for example through the EU’s Motorways of the Sea initiative. This development has gone hand-in-hand with increased sustainability concerns, but the industry is moving full speed ahead in addressing these as well, largely through international fora such as the IMO and ECSA. Additionally, individual companies are making an effort to ensure the industry’s sustainability.
AEL member Hapag-Lloyd is one of the world’s leading shipping companies, a global player with 300 branches in 114 countries. A fleet of some 140 ships with a transport capacity of over 620,000 TEU calls at 160 ports around the world with direct services. Including feeder networks, Hapag- Lloyd connects more than 430 ports in 110 countries by sea. Contributing to a reduction in global CO2 emissions and making careful use of natural resources are two of today’s most important business challenges. Hapag-Lloyd strives to reduce emissions continuously throughout the entire transport chain and in particular on their ships.
Complementary to action undertaken at the international level, Hapag-Lloyd has, for example, pioneered the practical application of slow steaming, enabling fuel consumption savings of up to 50%. This has a direct effect on the corresponding emissions of CO2, sulphur and nitrogen oxides. Innovation is key as well. A good example of the sustainability of a modern vessel fleet can be seen in the Hapag-Lloyd Vienna Express (8,750 TEU), built in 2010. The use of the latest technology and the most efficient engines means it consumes almost a quarter less fuel and therefore emits 23% less CO2 than other container ships of this size operating worldwide. This has been proven by an EEDI certificate – the first issued for a vessel worldwide. Finally, sustainability is enshrined in the company’s organisation, environmental protection is a management function at Hapag-Lloyd. A special Sustainability Management team reports directly to the Executive Board. This means short communications channels, fast decisions and a permanent presence in their everyday business.
Following recent agreement on energy saving measures (EEDI/SEEMP) in the International Maritime Organisation, further measures to reduce carbon emissions from maritime transport should continue to be dealt with in the IMO. Given the international nature of the maritime transport industry, regional measures can often be counterproductive. Policy measures can bring an additional push to innovation. While international shipping is a global operation and thus requires global rather than regional solutions, the high environmental requirements on shipping fuels in “Emission Control Areas” (ECA) have incentivised suppliers and users to find new ways of complying with requirements. Energy consumption of modern vessels is continually reduced in nominal terms (especially in terms of tone-miles), but long lead-times are required to ensure practicality.