Shipping sustainability indices reviewed

There is a need to improve todays sustainability indices for shipping. In a new Lighthouse report, existing indices in the shipping sector are reviewed, followed by a discussion on possible development.

Demands on reporting and communication of the sustainability performance within a company as well as externally and how the demands on continuous improvement are fulfilled, has led to a development and also standardisation of sustainability indicators and indices.

In shipping, like in all sectors, numerous indices or reporting systems have been developed and are used for various purposes. The aim has often been for communication with cargo owners and passengers, but also to be used as a basis for economic incentives intended to decrease emissions in ports and fairways.

With increased demands on aspects included, it is obvious that a future sustainability index for shipping needs to include social and economic aspects in addition to natural environment and resource use.

The present report is a pre-study with a review on existing indices in the shipping sector, and an outlook to other areas, followed by a discussion on possible development paths of more comprehensive sustainability indices.

The conclusions are:
The available environmental indices for shipping are many and there are initiatives, like CSI, that cover many relevant aspects. However, the indices are not very developed what concerns working conditions or socioeconomic costs. Also, economic parameters describing the ship-owner as a company are not included.
The scrapping process foreseen for a ship can be further developed and included in indices.

For further development, the following is suggested:

  • Develop indicators that can be used for describing work environment with the goal of introduction into an index.
  • The development of socioeconomic cost assessments, for example in terms of ecosystem services, is interesting and could be included in indices in the future. It is recommended that this development is followed for future use.
  • At the moment, there is not an easy way to include the economic dimension in terms of economic stability of the company in an index, but this should be further investigated.
  • The possible use of MRV (Monitoring, Reporting, Verification) in indices should be evaluated.

The pre study was written by: Karin Andersson (Chalmers), Erik Fridell (Cahlmers, IVL), Monica Lundh (Chalmers), Henrik Pahlm (Chalmers), Sara Sköld (IVL) and Erik Ytreberg (Chalmers). The study is initiated and sponsored by Lighthouse.