NGOs Ask for Publicly Available Ship Efficiency Data

NGOs Ask for Publicly Available Ship Efficiency Data

Transport & Environment, Seas at Risk and Carbon War Room have urged the United Nations’ International Maritime Organisation (IMO) not to withhold data on ship efficiency and fuel consumption.

The call for action follows moves by some industry groups to undermine initiatives at the IMO and EU level that would make efficiency performance publicly available and require ships to report and publicise their energy efficiency data.

In submissions to the IMO’s environment committee (MEPC), Transport & Environment (T&E) and Seas at Risk (SAR) – both members of the Clean Shipping Coalition (CSC) – have drawn on research by the University of Gothenburg which states that transparency is essential if the industry is to reduce its GHG emissions and develop a sustainable low-carbon future.

One of the principle barriers to the sector reducing its emissions is the lack of publicly available data on the energy performance of individual ships. The IMO’s MEPC plans to restrict access to the energy efficiency design index (EEDI) data on newly built ships. Some shipowners/operators claim that efficiency performance data is commercially sensitive and should remain confidential.

However, T&E and SAR say that this is in stark contrast to the experience of other industries; the publication of vehicle performance standards in the European car industry, for example, has led to average annual improvements in vehicle fuel efficiency of 4%. In the aviation industry, US carriers have been required to publish quarterly data on fuel consumption and other operational aspects since 1958.

Failure to make efficiency data transparent would be neither productive, nor in the best economic interests of the industry; freely available information is the key to promoting energy efficiency and driving down industry costs. Moreover the current situation, where some privileged actors pay for access to such data, distorts competition and divides the market between data ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’, according to T&E and SAR.

Disclosure of efficiency data ensures greater competition, prompting more calls for transparency from many shippers, cargo owners and operators. This is demonstrated by the increasing uptake of independent efficiency indices such as the Clean Cargo Working Group, the Clean Shipping Index and the A-G efficiency rating from RightShip and Carbon War Room. Indeed use of the A-G rating alone has been introduced as a policy by nearly 30%, representing 2 billion tons of cargo, of shipping’s non-containerised charter market.

T&E and SAR call on the IMO to recognise that a single source of official and certified data from the industry regulator would offer a more reliable and universal metric; one that would drive competition to increase efficiency across the industry.

John Maggs, president of the Clean Shipping Coalition and policy advisor on shipping and environment issues with Seas at Risk, said: “Transparency of efficiency data is needed to inform good policy making and is a win-win for the shipping industry and the environment. Transparency of data will help drive down industry costs, improve the functioning of the shipping market and lead to desperately needed reductions in ship GHG emissions.”

Press Release; October 13, 2014; Image: IMO