Clean Cargo Group Improves Transparency of Carbon Emissions in Ocean Shipping

The paper—Clean Cargo’s third annual release—indicates that average carbon-dioxide emissions for global ocean transportation routes declined by nearly 6 percent from 2010 to 2011

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BSR’s “Clean Cargo Working Group has released its latest paper revealing average carbon emissions by trade lane for the ocean shipping industry.

The release of the emissions data—reported by 13 of the world’s leading ocean container carriers, which represent more than 2,000 individual ships or more than 60 percent of ocean container capacity worldwide—provides the shipping industry with high-quality data for use in carbon footprint calculations.

The paper—Clean Cargo’s third annual release—indicates that average carbon-dioxide emissions for global ocean transportation routes declined by nearly 6 percent from 2010 to 2011. While partly driven by changes in carrier representation or global trade conditions, this decline is also likely due to improvements in carrier fleet efficiency and data quality, both having direct benefits for shipping customers.

“Clean Cargo created the industry standard for calculating ocean container carbon-dioxide emissions, and we continuously work to improve the methodology, said Angie Farrag, Clean Cargo Project Manager for BSR’s Transport & Logistics Practice. “The priority now is to scale up shipper use of this data and support efforts to standardize emissions calculations across the entire logistics supply chain. This is critical in moving from measurement and reporting to real performance improvement over time.”

For nearly a decade, Clean Cargo—the industry’s largest collaborative effort to measure and report on environmental impact—has worked with ocean carriers, cargo owners (“shippers”), third-party logistics companies, and other stakeholders to create credible methodologies and tools to gather vessel-by-vessel carrier environmental performance data and, in particular, carbon footprint data.

“Clean Cargo provides us with actual carbon-dioxide emissions from our carriers,” said Gorm Kjaerboll, Ocean Operations Manager at Electrolux and a Clean Cargo steering committee member. “As a shipper, we need good quality data to set and deliver on our own carbon footprint targets. We value our carriers’ efforts and welcome other shippers to join the dialogue and continue improvement of standards and performance.”

Clean Cargo’s annual trade-lane emissions factors can be found at More information on Clean Cargo’s work will be available in two upcoming reports describing the group’s data methodology and shipper use of its data and tools.

About the Author

Patrick Burnson, Executive Editor
Patrick Burnson is executive editor for Logistics Management and Supply Chain Management Review magazines and web sites. Patrick is a widely-published writer and editor who has spent most of his career covering international trade, global logistics, and supply chain management. He lives and works in San Francisco, providing readers with a Pacific Rim perspective on industry trends and forecasts. You can reach him directly at [email protected]

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