By Ryan Skinner (email)
Carbon War Room's Peter Browning dropped me, ever so casually, a press release from Cancun last night, informing me of the world's first carbon emissions data hub for shipping. Their press release is here: Download Carbon War Room unveils world’s first carbon emissions data hub for shipping . Washington Post, The Guardian and Sky News have already carried the news.
Basically, we're talking about a web-site, with a back-end that claims to provide ship charterers and supply chain pro's with vessel efficiency information. It's built on the IMO's EEDI and the CCWG's CO2 index.
I'm not going to dive into the merits of EEDI and the CCWG methodology. Leave it that they have some soundness. @freightinvestor responded to my tweet arguing that shippingefficiency.org was a slam dunk for the industry thus:
Now, I've had my issues with Carbon War Room in the past. And, again, I would argue they're making the same mistake. Once again, they ask for widespread participation, while they only follow up with the few who serve their interests.
But, alas, you can't get upset when the big kids won't let you play in their sandbox, if they manage to build a great sand castle. Many in the industry have argued that a widely inclusive and democratic process on big, industrial questions is impossible. Better to work with a coalition of the willing. Perhaps that's the rhyme and rhythm of this kind of progress.
The question remains: Is what they've constructed merely a pretty sand castle, or is it something better and sturdier?
As PR stunts go, slapping a metaphorical energy efficiency tag, like those we see on dishwashers and toasters, on to the side of a post-Panamax container ship has some merit. It's cute, straightforward and easily comparable. It just might fix an industry problem, allowing buyers of shipping services to select based on a vetted standard for environmental performance.
If there are any problems related to the public value of shippingefficiency.org, it's these:
- It could kill moonshots. That is, when you create a nice and easy stepwise way to enable lowered emissions (if small), then you sap the energy from bolder efforts to gun straight for zero emissions.
- It doesn't really do anything about overall shipping-related emissions. Coal-powered production of goods in one country will not suffer, compared to cleaner-powered production in another country. That is, we're only looking at the relative efficiency of moving things, not producing them. Arguably, shipping could say that production isn't it's problem. From a PR perspective, though, it is.
Shipping web-sites that aim to bite off as much as shippingefficiency.org has, and chew it, are few and far between. Shippingefficiency.org doesn't solve shipping's emissions problems, but it puts a decent face on the effort, if only for the industry itself.
Got opinions? Anyone leaving a comment here, sharing their opinion of shippingefficiency.org, I promise to forward to Carbon War Room's Peter Boyd directly. Let's put some opinions on this.