Clean Cargo Working Group, a global carrier-shipper initiative dedicated to improving the environmental performance of marine container transport activities, recently 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 per cent of ocean container capacity worldwide – provides the shipping industry with data for use in carbon footprint calculations.

The paper indicates that average carbon-dioxide emissions for global ocean transportation routes declined by nearly 6 per cent 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.”

Clean Cargo Working Group comprises approximately 30 member companies with an equal spread of carriers and shippers, including 16 world-liner fleet operators and more than a dozen global shippers. The working group has worked with ocean carriers, 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.

CO2 calculation methodology

Clean Cargo has developed a standardized CO2 ­calculation methodology to enable CO2 benchmarking, drive improvements, and improve data quality over time. The methodology is used by member carriers to calculate vessel emissions as part of the Clean Cargo Performance Metrics disclosure.

Following is a description of how CO2 emissions ­factors are calculated for the purposes of the Clean Cargo Performance Metrics.

Clean Cargo carriers report on the ­following data for each vessel through the annual Clean Cargo ­Performance Metrics data collection process:

•           Nominal capacity in 20-foot equivalent container units (TEUs)

•           Number of reefer plugs

•           Distance sailed

•           Fuel consumed (heavy fuel oil and marine diesel/gas oil reported separately)

•           Timeframe of data

The Clean Cargo Performance Metrics Tool uses this information to calculate vessel CO2 emissions. The calculation methodology for dry containers is based on International Maritime Organization (IMO) guidance for emissions and carbon contents of fuels.