Each year we publish an ESG report, in which we endeavor to identify the levers that we, as a company, can pull in order to continue to translate environmental sensitivity, social responsibility, and good governance into specific actions. To this end, periodically we enlist the help of our core stakeholders including customers, employees, investors, financiers, suppliers, and industry bodies to gauge the materiality of the many different facets of ESG and guide us in drafting a strategic roadmap to address them. To help drive this process, and to ensure that ESG becomes increasingly embedded in our company culture and the way we do business, we have a specialized ESG committee at the Board level.
The container shipping industry links producers and consumers of goods, thereby facilitating economic growth. Container shipping is a key part of the global supply chain and, as such, is also a contributor to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals - particularly those associated with poverty alleviation, economic growth, and infrastructure.
Shipping also represents a low carbon form of transportation, especially when compared to emissions associated with moving comparable volumes of cargo over the equivalent distances using other common modes of freight transport: approximately 50x lower than air freight, 4x lower than road, and 3x lower than rail. It is estimated that 80% of global trade is carried by sea.
However, that is not to understate the magnitude of the challenges we need to address going forward, arguably the most critical of which is to play a role in the global effort to tackle Climate Change and create a sustainable environment for our children.
Reducing the carbon footprint of the global supply chain is growing in both importance and emphasis:
▪ Shipping’s main regulatory body, the IMO, has published its strategy for reducing GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions from shipping by 50% by 2050, with a parallel target of reducing the carbon intensity of transport work by at least 40% by 2030 and pursuing a 70% reduction by 2050 (compared to 2008 levels).
▪ An increasing number of ship finance banks are signing up to the Poseidon Principles and committing to measure their portfolios’ emission profiles against the industry’s targets.
The regulatory environment focused on decarbonizing shipping continues to evolve. Recent initiatives include CII (the Carbon Intensity Indicator) and EEXI (the Energy Efficiency Existing Ship Index). The latter was ratified in June of 2021 and will come into force from January 1, 2023.
Compliance with EEXI will be compulsory: if a ship is non-compliant it will not be permitted to trade until it becomes compliant. Compliance may be met in various way - the most common, effective, and cost-efficient of which is expected to be the installation of Engine Power Limiters (EPLs).
The relationship between speed and fuel consumption is non-linear: higher operating speeds require disproportionately higher fuel consumption and generate disproportionately higher emissions. An EPL limits the power output of a ship’s main engine, which in turn puts a cap on the operating speed of that ship and limits the associated emissions. Consequently, EEXI may cause a reduction in the operating speed of the global containership fleet, which would have the knock-on effect of reducing effective capacity: it is estimated that reducing the average speed of the global containership fleet by one knot would reduce effective capacity by 5 – 6 %.
Our fleet is focused upon mid-sized and smaller ships, with capacity weighted towards Post-Panamax (wide beam) vessels. The latter combine a high level of operational flexibility with comparatively low costs and GHG emissions per cargo slot: aligning our commercial interests with a reduced emissions footprint. Our environmental and commercial strategies are aligned by taking a full life-cycle approach to the carbon footprint of ships: considering the impact of building and recycling ships, as well as operating them. We see expanding the economic life and optimizing the operation of existing ships, until next-generation sustainable fuels and propulsion technologies become well-established, commercially available, and economically viable, as being both environmentally sensible and financially prudent.
We are members of the Getting to Zero Coalition, signatories to the Call to Action for Shipping Decarbonization, and are focused on achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050.
These are complex times, and the challenges we must collectively face, together with the nature of ESG itself, will continue to evolve. We are committed to continuous improvement and to ensuring that Global Ship Lease creates sustainable value over the long term.