Shipping company climate assessments: nowhere to hide

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All of the in-person extravaganzas that were suspended in Q1 2020 are now back, albeit with slightly staggered times. The same goes for the World Economic Forum (WEF), a conference of important and wealthy people who meet in Davos, Switzerland. Previously, its meetings were held in the weeks following Christmas/New Year, the ski season in the Swiss Alps. This year, the meeting will take place during the last week of May.

The WEF has less tangential links with maritime transport; the Global Maritime Forum, based in Copenhagen (and integral to initiatives such as the Poseidon Principles for Maritime Finance and the Sea Freight Charter, among others) lists the WEF among its list of project and knowledge partners. So there is definitely a link.

At the 2022 event, Keith Svendsen, CEO of APM Terminals, AP Møller-Maersk, Denmark, will participate in a panel titled “Unlocking New Markets for Investment and Services”, scheduled for May 24and.

It goes without saying that one of the major topics discussed at Davos is climate change (although geopolitics seems to be the major topic for well-known reasons). Still, the topic will come up again, and it got me to consider what influencers outside of day-to-day shipping operations, looking for high-level shipping company reviews, might see.

A non-profit group called CDP Global (describing itself as “the gold standard of environmental reporting”) has published a report at the end of last year with scores for individual companies (see here and scroll down the page). The report, prefaced by “The A List”, notably includes a number of shipping companies.

In my articles and occasional speeches, I have suggested that shipping lines will need to be sensitive to freight providers, who are under many microscopes when it comes to emissions in general. For readers in doubt, see https://www.cdp.net/en/supply-chain which explains environmental disclosure services and invites customers to register. If readers are in doubt about where shipping fits in the crosshairs, consider the website’s “supply chain” page has a banner image in the middle of the page of a fully loaded container ship. CDP lists McKinsey, the consultants, as a “partner”. McKinsey also figures in the efforts of the Global Maritime Forum and other experts who have spoken out on maritime emissions.

The CDP report (which I found in a McKinsey post about the upcoming Davos 2022 meetings) rates hundreds of companies on multiple metrics, and the online data can be grouped by industry categories (again , see here). In the different sectors related to “Transport”, the table below shows the scores that I found for maritime companies. Before you get too excited about the various “F” ratings, the CDP indicates that an “F” refers to a failure to deliver data suitable for the CDP’s algorithms.

With 2023 and new carbon intensity reporting (CII) regulatory requirements coming up, there are literally dozens of CII information providers. The CDP attempts to provide its rating on much broader parameters than whether or not individual vessels are following their “trajectories”. Nevertheless, with CDP (and others) watching such scores, it will be increasingly difficult for shipping companies to remain invisible.

Here is an overview of the CDP ratings below:

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