Carbon War Room Launches a Sustainable Travel Initiative: ShippingEfficiency.org

Cruises have just begun to climb aboard on the sustainable travel train, but they are still (usually) much, much dirtier than trains, cars and planes. Of course, cruises aren't even the main problem; tankers, cargo ships and other sea monsters are the ones dirtying up the sea. ShippingEfficiency.org, created by the NGO Carbon War Room, hopes to add some clarity to ship emissions, so that ship owners, operators, insurance companies, shipbrokers customers, etc., can get a better sense as to whether a ship or cruise liner is green.

ShippingEfficiency.org, still in Beta, was designed primarily for maritime professionals, but it allows free access to all consumers. The site currently offers energy efficiency ratings based on the United Nations' IMO's Energy Efficiency design Index (EEDI) as well as the Clean Cargo Working Group Index, which indicates CO2 efficiency. Data for 60,000 ships has been put into the website. Vessels are color-coded and also given a letter rating, between “A” (the most efficient) and “G” (the least eco).

The Carbon War Room, founded by Richard Branson, has taken advantage of the Cllimate Change energy in Cancun to launch ShippingEfficiency.org. In a recent article in the Guardian, Branson suggested that climate change shouldn't be left to governments alone. Instead, he wrote, "Business must play a leading role in encouraging efforts to effect lasting change."

Carbon War Room hopes to encourage businesses to engage with environmental concerns, in part by making eco efforts financially viable. Allowing customers to choose the greenest ships on ShippingEfficiency.org will give progressive shippers an edge. Ideally, big companies like Nike and Walmart will eventually turn to ShippingEfficiency.org in an effort to green their brands. And, if the shipping industry embraces sustainable travel, it would mean a serious reduction in greenhouse gases.

Shipping accounts for about 4% of the world's total emissions (whereas aviation accounts for around 2%).  Naturally, Branson has been criticized for trying to detract attention from his airlines and space travel, but it's a good idea for the world to start pointing fingers at shipping. One estimate states that by 2050, shipping could account for 15-30% of total emissions. Interestingly, 15% of the world's shipping fleet accounts for half of all the emissions.  Why are those guys still on the water? Carbon War Room calculates that shipping emissions could be cut by about 30% by making use of current green technology. Of course, new sustainable travel ships would (and hopefully will) also help the situation.

Photo Credit: Jacques Girard