Shipping majors to develop book and claim system to back decarbonisation

Nine players across the maritime value chain have issued a joint statement expressing their commitment to developing and implementing robust book and claim chain of custody systems to accelerate the early phases of shipping’s decarbonisation.

Illustration; Credit: GCMD

The signatories of the joint statement are Aspen Shipping Decarbonization Initiative, DHL Global Forwarding, Hapag Lloyd, Kuehne + Nagel, NORDEN, Oldendorff Carriers, ONE, Torvald Klaveness, and Yara Clean Ammonia. The companies belong to the Getting to Zero coalition, which has been exploring book and claim chain of custody approaches as part of its mission to fully decarbonise the shipping industry.

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According to the signatories, the book and claim chain of custody systems will allow the emission profile of a zero- and near zero-emission fuel to be separated from the physical flow of that fuel in a transportation supply chain.

Furthermore, these systems can enable early action, even when zero- and near-zero emission fuels and vessels are in limited supply, by separating decarbonisation from the physical transportation of an organisation’s cargo.

Specifically, in a book and claim system, the environmental benefits of zero- and near zero-emission fuels are tracked and transferred across the maritime value chain. One party can purchase, or “book”, a specific quantity of zero- or near zero-emission fuel and then “claim” the environmental benefits of it even though the fuel is physically used by another shipper in a different location.

By activating early demand from shippers and cargo owners, these systems are expected to help shipowners and fuel providers develop a business case for decarbonisation even while preferred fuel pathways are still being determined.

Now, the joint statement sets out actions the signatories will undertake to ensure that book and claim chain of custody systems succeed.

The nine signing companies commit to include working together to agree on the use of clear and consistent rules wherever possible and maintaining the highest standards of environmental, social and commercial integrity. They also call on non-industry actors like the Greenhouse Gas Protocol and the Science Based Targets initiative to recognise book and claim approaches as credible emissions reductions.

In order to avoid conflicts between the International Maritime Organization (IMO) regulations and book and claim systems, the partners argue that the IMO must adopt a full life cycle, or well-to-wake, accounting of greenhouse gases. The statement calls on the IMO, whose Marine Environment Protection Committee is meeting this week, to implement well-to-wake accounting in its own policy measures for decarbonisation.

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Through this joint statement, the companies commit to working in close collaboration to address the challenges to be addressed to effectively implement book and claim.

“Book and claim systems are going to be essential tools for getting decarbonisation of shipping moving, but they remain poorly understood, and their development risks getting bogged down in confusion and suspicion,” said Jesse Fahnestock, Project Director at Global Maritime Forum.

“With this statement, some of the most important companies in international shipping are committing to making book and claim systems transparent, well-aligned and environmentally credible for their customers and stakeholders. And they’re calling on other key players, like the Greenhouse Gas Protocol, to create a pathway for acceptance. It can’t happen soon enough.”