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What will it take to make shipping sustainable?

A group of leading shipping operators is calling on the wider industry to embrace new finance models to fund clean tech upgrades and back calls for a new international framework for tackling shipping emissions.

The Sustainable Shipping Initiative (SSI), which represents 17 firms from across the shipping sector including Bunge, Cargill, Maersk Line, ABN AMRO, Lloyd's Register and AkzoNobel, this week published its annual progress report, detailing its work to accelerate the rollout of clean technologies, promote sustainable ship recycling practices and make the shipping industry a more attractive employer.

The progress report is intended to act as a forerunner for the group's new road map for delivering rapid improvements in shipping operator's environmental performance through 2040, which is due to be published before the end of March.

Specifically, the group revealed plans to establish by 2018 a "cost-efficient way" for SSI members to support Ship Recycling Facilities (SRFs) in achieving "minimum safe, environmentally and socially responsible requirements" and complying with the International Maritime Organization's (IMO) Hong Kong International Convention for the Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships (HKC), which has been internationally agreed, but not yet ratified sufficiently to enter into force globally.

There is no room for complacency, and we must be under no illusion of the significant challenges that lie ahead.

It also urged more shipping owners, operators and owners to take advantage of the SSI's recently launched Save as you Sail (SAYS) finance scheme, which aims to ensure owners and charterers share the benefits that come with efficiency upgrades.

"SAYS includes a financial model that owners, charterers and financiers can use to model returns on investment and profits from more efficient vessels; and a set of legal considerations needed to enable third-party financing of the retrofit costs in the short-term time charter market," the SSI explained on its website.

Alastair Fischbacher, chief executive of the SSI, urged more firms operating in the shipping industry to join the group.

"There is no room for complacency, and we must be under no illusion of the significant challenges that lie ahead," he said. "But we have shown that when organizations within the industry come together to make a difference and drive more sustainable behaviors, great things can be achieved. We will continue with this mission, and welcome organizations from all elements of the shipping supply chain to join with us and work to deliver a sustainable industry."

In related news, environmental NGO Carbon War Room announced it was launching a new Shipping Efficiency Advisory Board to support its efforts to deliver an efficiency labelling system for ships.

The new board includes Jan Dieleman, incoming president of ocean transportation at Cargill; Henrik Overgaard Madsen, former chief executive of certification giant DNV; Mark Cameron, chairman of the International Parcel Tanker Association (IPTA) and COO of Ardmore Shipping Corporation; Juha Heikinheimo, president of maritime software specialist NAPA; Mark Clintworth, head of shipping for the European Investment Bank; and Dr. Tristan Smith, director of the Research Council U.K.-funded project Shipping in Changing Climates and reader in energy and transport at the UCL Energy Institute.

"We are thrilled to have gathered a group with so much knowledge and experience in shipping," said Galen Hon, manager of shipping operation at Carbon War Room. "Following UNFCCC in Paris, the industry has an obligation to find new and innovative ways to reduce carbon while remaining competitive. With expertise spanning finance, ship operation, classification, data analysis, technology and software, these individuals are perfectly positioned to identify and evaluate opportunities for innovation and growth."

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