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In the fall of 2020, leading cargo owners, including Anglo American, Cargill, Dow, Total, and Trafigura, together with shipowners Euronav, Norden, Stena Bulk and other stakeholders, launched the Sea Cargo Charter, which establishes a framework for assessing and disclosing the climate alignment of ship chartering activities around the globe.

The Sea Cargo Charter goals are consistent with the policies of the IMO, including ambitions to reduce shipping's total annual GHG emissions by at least 50 per cent by 2050. In addition, the Sea Cargo Charter will enable cargo-owners and shipowners to align their chartering activities with responsible environmental behaviour and incentivise the decarbonisation of international shipping.

The Sea Cargo Charter is aligned with the Poseidon Principles:

  • Assessment of climate alignment
    Signatories are to calculate the ‘GHG emission intensity’ and ‘total GHG emissions’ of their chartering activities on an annual basis. They are to then assess the results and their ‘climate alignment’ against IMO ambitions.
  • Accountability
    To ensure impartiality in the data assessment, the Sea Cargo Charter identifies the preferred method of performing the requisite calculations by third parties acting on behalf of the signatories.
  • Enforcement
    Signatories will agree to work with owners, and business partners to collect and process the information necessary to calculate carbon intensity and total GHG emissions and assess climate alignment.
  • Transparency
    Each signatory will report its climate alignment results annually and send all supporting information to the Charter Secretariat.

The Sea Cargo Charter relies specifically on the IMO’s Energy Efficiency Operational Indicator (EEOI) a tool created by the IMO to track fuel efficiency for ships in operation over time and to gauge the effect of any changes during operation.

DNV INSIGHT: Regulations, banks and cargo owners

While most owners recognise the need to reduce to reduce GHGs, coordination between regulators, ship finance and cargo owners creates powerful incentives for the industry to change. Alignment between the Poseidon Principles and the Sea Cargo Charter, based on standardised IMO methodologies to calculate ship efficiency and carbon emissions, provides a strong platform for measuring performance and a basis to reward owners who act. The industry will need more collaboration among other stakeholders to achieve the IMO’s target for GHG reductions. However, both the Poseidon Principles and the Sea Cargo Charter represent good models.