Something positive has been happening lately in the maritime world, since The GoodShipping Program burst onto the scene - making us think about the environmental impact of the container industry and proposing practical and radical solutions that can change the way that we traditionally saw ocean transportation.
It’s a remarkable effort from GoodFuels, a company that develops and delivers advanced sustainable fuels, who in 2016 launched The GoodShipping Program, an initiative to make the marine industry more sustainable. The concept is as simple as it is ambitious: to significantly reduce CO2-emissions by using sustainable biofuels in the marine market space instead of fossil marine fuels, the latter being mainly responsible for the enormous CO2-footprint generated by this industry.
So many things have changed after this pioneering program debuted officially in 2017. Now, more and more companies are looking to alternatives that allow them to transport their goods in an efficient way, aligned with the fundamental pillars of sustainable development and mitigating the environmental impact generated. Green Nautical Miles reached out to Anniek Sluis, Growth Accelerator at GoodShipping Program in Amsterdam, to better understand what they have achieved so far.
What do you think has been your most important achievement over the past couple of years?
Some highlights have definitely been winning the TEDx Amsterdam Award and the Accenture Innovation Award for Clean and Affordable Energy, but the most important achievement must be ‘Bio Bunker Day’. On the 7th of September, we bunkered our first batch of biofuels on behalf of our first customers, in collaboration with a Dutch shipping company called Samskip. They let us replace part of the Heavy Fuel Oil that normally goes into their container vessel ‘The Samskip Endeavour’ with advanced biofuels, and we did this on behalf of five cargo owners. The whole day was just such an inspiring and positive event, which took place in the Port of Rotterdam. Having actually bunkered our first batch now means we have practiced what we preached; we proofed to the industry and to cargo owners that reducing the massive shipping footprint is possible.
In terms of opportunities for developing your initiative, what does the strategy adopted by The International Maritime Organization this year in London, which aims a reduction in total GHG emissions from international shipping by at least 50% by 2050 compared to 2008, mean for the Good Shipping Program?
The IMO strategy is a very positive movement within the shipping industry. On the other hand, the fact that the details and execution of the strategy will only be defined in 2023 leaves us worrying. Since shipping is excluded from the Paris Climate agreement, it is the only industry that has no incentive to start the decarbonization, until the IMO will define clear targets. From the IPCC report that came out earlier this month, it’s very clear that action is needed now and not in five years from today. An opportunity here is that the world is becoming less ‘sea blind’. In other words, more and more people are aware of the level of pollution caused by the shipping industry. This will mean more interest in decarbonising ocean freight and potentially more willingness from within the industry to make this happen.
What repercussions will be felt in the container industry as a result of this new strategy adopted in London?
The expectation is that the shipping industry will escalate the extra costs that come with this new strategy to the cargo owners. In other words, shipping costs per container will go up. We believe that it is more likely that the container shipping industry will decarbonize due to pressure by the cargo owners, than by pressure by the IMO. Working groups like the CCWG and CSI are examples of cargo owners gathering together with the carriers to discuss and explore the option for more sustainable shipping. However, for as long as there is no level playing field for the container shipping industry to reduce its carbon footprint, it is very unlikely that positive developments will take place rapidly, due to the scale and international character of the industry.
Is there a particular company, institution or person who inspires you to continue changing things?
I still always get inspired by the people at Tony’s Chocolonely; our launching customer. Tony’s strives to make slave free chocolate the norm. So, in a way they are trying to do the same as us; changing a norm in an old, somewhat conservative industry. Next to their noble mission, they are also sustainable front-runners and are 100% transparent about everything they do. Tony’s has connected their outgoing ocean freight to GoodShipping, ensuring that all their products sold overseas have been shipped there climate neutral. They are an ambassador for our program and in my eyes an example for other cargo owners.