The Danish shipping company emitted 31.6 million tons of CO2 in 2010, down from 33.7 million tons in 2009, according to the company’s 2010 sustainability progress report (pdf). Of last year’s figure, Maersk says, “This is a considerable amount and underlines the potential for improvement.”
The company has a target to reduce its CO2 emissions by 25 percent by 2020, from a 2007 baseline.
In February Maersk unveiled the Triple E class of ships, whose capacity will be 16 percent greater than that of the company’s current largest ship, the Emma Maersk. The Triple E class will be the world’s largest and most efficient container ships, Maersk said, emitting 50 percent less emissions than the industry average for vessels on the Asia-Europe route. Maersk expects to take delivery of these vessels in 2013.
Maersk has been involved in several efforts to improve environmental practices across the shipping industry. It has publicly pushed the International Maritime Organization and the UN’s Climate Change Convention (UNFCCC) to apply CO2 regulations to the sector.
But it is also seeking to use its environmental performance to competitive advantage. The sustainability report said that Maersk has seen a 4.1 percent improvement in answers to the survey question, “Compared to other carriers Maersk Line makes a genuine effort to protect the environment.”
Last year a Maersk survey of over 300 customers found that 41 percent consider sustainability when selecting a supplier, that 22 percent consider it on an ad-hoc basis, and another 22 percent plan on considering it in the near future (see chart).
The report says that the issue of CO2 continues to pose the greatest set of risks and opportunities for global container shipping.
But Maersk says that container shipping is by far the most energy efficient way to transport goods over long distances. It also says that driving about 1 km to a shop to buy a pair of shoes produces the same amount of CO2 as shipping the shoes from China to Northern Europe.
“What matters is not the distance the has travelled but the total CO2 emitted from production and transport of the products,” head of climate and environment Jacob Sterling says.
Maersk’s 2015 goals include the development of technologies, innovation and voluntary action that can reduce SOx beyond regulatory requirements. To this end, the company says it has undertaken two voluntary fuel-switches in Houston and Hong Kong.
Another 2015 goal calls for the protection of ocean health and the marine environment. In 2010, Maersk said it pushed for better port performance on waste disposal by the means of a rating scheme, and Maersk’s top 100 ports of call have now been rated on their efforts to guarantee safe waste disposal.
The company says the top ports in 2010 were Algeciras, Antwerp, Chiwan, Da Chan Bay, Felixstowe, Fos Sur Mer, Genoa, Gibraltar, Gothenburg, Koper, Nansha, Niteroi, Piraeus, Rotterdam, Shekou, Sydney, Tauranga, Xiamen, Yantian and Zeebrugge.
The current process is a self-assessment filled in by waste-handling vendors at each port, with a follow-up check by Maersk Line, but the company says it is working on a more systematic approach and would welcome involvement by a third-party certifier.