Clean Cargo report: Container shipping’s CO2 emissions down in 2019

Illustration; Image by Navingo

Carbon dioxide emissions from the world’s leading ocean container carriers continued to fall in 2019, according to a new report from Clean Cargo, a collaborative initiative for sustainable cargo shipping managed by Business for Social Responsibility(BSR).

Clean Cargo’s aggregate average Trade Lane CO2 Emissions Factors are compiled from verified operations data of over 3,500 vessels, from 17 of the world’s largest ocean container carriers, representing approximately 85 percent of global containerized shipping.

These include A.P. Møller – Mærsk, CMA CGM Group, COSCO Shipping Lines Ltd., Evergreen Line, Hapag-Lloyd, Hyundai M.M., MSC, ONE (Ocean Network Express), and Yang Ming Marine Transport Corp.

According to the report, global industry averages for CO2 emissions per container per kilometer decreased by 5.6 percent and 2.5 percent for Dry and Reefer (refrigerated) indexes, respectively.

Improvements on the CO2 Dry index were seen on major tradelanes, such as:

  • Asia to-from North Europe with a 3% reduction o Asia to-from North America West Coast and Asia to-from North America East Coast with a 6% reduction
  • Asia to-from Middle East / India with a 12% reduction
  • Asia to-from Mediterranean / Black Sea with a 12% reduction

 The report also showed a decrease in SOx emissions (-10.2% globally), although the group’s methodology and calculations do not yet factor in the increasing use of exhaust gas cleaning systems.

A mapping of Clean Cargo membership divided by vessel size and type shows a clear increase in the fleet size, which results in an increase in the total amount of fuel consumed by the group.

There were no major changes in fuel types, with vessels remaining mainly on HFO. There has been a slight increase in MDO and a substantial increase in LFO, LNG, and hybrid fuels, even if they still represent a small proportion of the total fuel consumed. LNG is used mainly on small vessels, while the hybrid fuels use is spread among the larger sizes of vessels. Ultra-large vessels were still running on HFO or conventional fuels.

Over the last 10 years, the main trends observed through the Clean Cargo reporting framework were:

  • Clean Cargo Fleet capacity grew by 153%, from 8 to 20.4 mil. TEU
  • Heavy fuel oil decreased from 97.2% to 86.6% of fuel used.
  • Lower emissions correlate with higher transport work, increasing ship size and tradelane length

“Standardized, consolidated, industry-wide emissions data are essential to decarbonization efforts,” said Angie Farrag-Thibault, Collaborations and Transport Director at BSR and Program Director of Clean Cargo.

“With over 60 global brands and forwarders working with the industry in Clean Cargo, we are making excellent collective progress. But we know that further action is needed: full value chain collaboration is critical to transform the system, and we encourage more brands to get involved.”

Several years ago, Clean Cargo developed a standardized methodology and reporting system that was adopted globally by the industry, with carriers submitting operational data from the entire fleet to BSR on an annual basis for trade lane emission factors aggregation.

The Clean Cargo general formula to calculate vessel CO2 emissions (in gCO2/TEUkm) is:

(𝑡𝑜𝑡𝑎𝑙 𝑘𝑔 𝑓𝑢𝑒𝑙 𝑐𝑜𝑛𝑠𝑢𝑚𝑒𝑑 𝑓𝑜𝑟 𝑐𝑜𝑛𝑡𝑎𝑖𝑛𝑒𝑟𝑠 ∗ 𝐼𝑀𝑂 𝑓𝑎𝑐𝑡𝑜𝑟 𝑔𝐶𝑂2 𝑘𝑔 𝑓𝑢𝑒𝑙)

_________________________________________________________________ (𝑚𝑎𝑥𝑖𝑚𝑢𝑚 𝑛𝑜𝑚𝑖𝑛𝑎𝑙 𝑇𝐸𝑈 𝑐𝑎𝑝𝑎𝑐𝑖𝑡𝑦 ∗ 𝑡𝑜𝑡𝑎𝑙 𝑑𝑖𝑠𝑡𝑎𝑛𝑐𝑒 𝑠𝑎𝑖𝑙𝑒𝑑 [𝑘𝑚])

The results produce environmental performance scorecards for each carrier, which are used to meet corporate supply chain sustainability goals by a significant share of shipping customers participating in the group.

This year, Clean Cargo reported information that includes W2W, CO2e and a 70 percent utilization adjustment factor.

Clean Cargo is a GLEC Accredited partner of SFC and a Knowledge Partner to the Getting to Zero Coalition.

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