a ship carrying hundreds of metal containers

New research center to lead decarbonizing efforts for shipping industry

(Editor’s note: This article has been updated as of September 8, 2021)

After making a strong commitment to reducing its global carbon emissions towards 2050, the shipping industry, led by major players, are taking the next step to develop new fuel types and technologies.

Recently launched was the Mærsk Mc-Kinney Møller Center for Zero Carbon Shipping. The founding company partners behind this initiative are ABS, AP Møller-Mærsk, Cargill, MAN Energy Solutions, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, NYK Line, and Siemens Energy.

Targeted to be based in Copenhagen, Denmark, the upcoming center will be established from a start-up donation (DKK 400 million, or $63.5 million) by the AP Møller Foundation. “With this donation, the AP Møller Foundation wishes to support the efforts to solve the climate issue in global shipping. My father, Mærsk Mc-Kinney Møller, was a visionary leader in the global shipping industry for more than seven decades. He was concerned about shipping’s impact on the environment. In the 1980s he championed the use of low sulfur fuel, and he pioneered the first double hull oil tankers in the 1990s to minimize the risk of oil spills. Therefore, I find it very natural that my father’s name will be connected to the center,” said AP Møller Foundation board chair Ane Uggla.

As a non-profit organization, the center will set up as a commercial foundation with a charitable purpose. And as an independent research center, it will work across the entire shipping sector with industry, academia, and authorities. A highly specialized, cross-disciplinary team will collaborate globally to create overviews of decarbonization pathways, accelerate the development of selected decarbonizing fuels and power technologies, and support the establishment of regulatory, financial, and commercial means to enable transformation.

Søren Skou, AP Møller-Mærsk CEO, has been confirmed as board member to direct the center. Additional board members will be announced upon appointment. “The founding partners and the AP Møller Foundation share a long-term ambition to decarbonize the shipping industry. The establishment of the center is a quantum leap towards realizing that ambition. This joint initiative will fast-track the maturation of solutions and strengthen the basis for decision making among industry players and regulators, and hence accelerate investments and implementation of new technologies. I am looking forward to join the board of this ambitious collaboration,” said future board member Søren Skou.

Furthermore, the center will have a management board which will be headed by Bo Cerup-Simonsen as CEO of the Center. Cerup-Simonsen holds a PhD from the Technical University of Denmark in Mechanical Engineering, Naval Architecture. He has a proven track record in leadership of large-scale industry projects, maritime technology, research, and innovation.

“This is the early days of a demanding and necessary transformation of an entire industry. Thanks to the AP Møller Foundation and the support from industry-leading partners, we now have a unique opportunity to unfold the potential of a sector-wide collaboration towards complete decarbonization. The Mærsk Mc-Kinney Møller Center for Zero Carbon Shipping provides a solid platform for the entire eco-system to join forces, demonstrate new solutions and identify the next steps to make it happen. I’m excited to let the work begin, expanding the collaboration with a broad variety of contributors,” Cerup-Simonsen said.

The founding partner companies bring a collective commitment to decarbonizing shipping and specialized knowledge and research capabilities. Further, the founding partners will donate expert people resources and testing platforms to support the operations. The center expects to attract several more partner companies in the future.

During the first two to three years, around 100 employees will be recruited to the Copenhagen-based office and collaborate with new partners. The founding partner companies have committed a third of the needed staff; the remaining two-thirds will be recruited independently. In addition to leadership and administration, the Center staff will include subject matter experts in energy, fuels, and ship technology as well as regulatory affairs, finance, and the global energy transition.

Evergreen joins ship recycling initiative

Meanwhile, Evergreen Marine Corp (Taiwan) Ltd recently became a signatory to the Ship Recycling Transparency Initiative (SRTI) to share its aged vessels’ green recycling policy. The move is part of Evergreen’s avowed commitment to planning a completely sustainable life cycle for its ships from design, construction, operation, and ultimately to decommissioning.

Hosted by the Sustainable Shipping Initiative, SRTI is an online platform via which members report information on their ship recycling policies and activities against a set of predefined disclosure criteria. In the interest of transparency, Evergreen and other participating ship owners can share their approach to this critical component of environmental and socially responsible ship operations. Cargo owners and financial stakeholders, in turn, will have access to this information to make their own informed decisions.

In announcing its decision to join SRTI, Evergreen said, “We have had a long-standing commitment to ‘clean oceans’. Embodied in this goal is a mission to ensure responsible and sustainable operations wherever they touch the environment, whether at sea or on land, and to care for the people we employ and the communities we serve.”

Therefore, when planning its current fleet renewal strategy, Evergreen requires strict recycling standards for those vessels being disposed of, but also incorporates state-of-the-art design into its new buildings to minimize the impact of container shipping operations both on marine life, on port communities and humanity worldwide.

“When a vessel is decommissioned, and recycling is planned, not only can valuable and reusable resources be recovered but potentially dangerous waste and pollutants must be processed properly.” Evergreen further stated, “Recycling operations with the highest standards of safety available must be utilized. We are therefore pleased to share our recycling policies by joining SRTI and helping lead a growing industry initiative to demand more responsible ship recycling in the future.”

In a statement welcoming Evergreen, Andrew Stephens, executive director of the Sustainable Shipping Initiative, said, “Evergreen Marine joins a growing SRTI family that includes like-minded ship owners who are holding themselves to account before key stakeholders, including clients, investors and the wider public. This includes an increasingly diverse range of stakeholders engaging on the topics of data and transparency, circularity, and the role of financial stakeholders in sustainable and responsible ship recycling in the absence of global regulation.”

True to both its name and the corporate philosophy established by group founder and chair Dr YF Chang, Evergreen recognizes its ecological obligations and maintains the best possible care in sustaining an “ever green” global environment. (Stories and photos courtesy of AP Møller-Mærsk, Evergreen-Maritime)

Watch this short teaser video by Maersk about the urgency of taking climate action in the high seas: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2VNefyH_Les.

What is the human and environmental impact of shipbreaking and ship recycling? Find out in this short Forbes video feature:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EmzLcNF3kxs