Image credit: Daly3d, used under Creative Commons license.
Richard Branson has long argued that business must step up and tackle both climate change and peak oil as a matter of urgency. From proposing waste-based biofuels in aviation, and even towing planes to the runway, through to setting up a carbon war room and warning of $200 a barrel oil, he has definitely made some big, bold moves in the greener business sphere. (I remain unconvinced by his arguments for green space tourism though.) Now the man is taking on the shipping industry, creating a comprehensive energy efficiency rating system for all ocean-going ships. The result, he hopes, will be empowered exporters, importers and even vacationers on cruises, who will now be able to pressure companies to use only the greenest vessels. According to John Vidal over at The Guardian, the launch of ShippingEfficiency.org is intended to create a global database showing the engine size and CO2 emissions of nearly 60,000 ships—and thus mobilizing significant pressure on fleet owners to green up their act and start using cleaner and more efficient ships. The scheme's architects have high hopes for the database which, they say, could cut emissions by as much as 25%. Talking to the Guardian from Cancún, Branson didn't mince his words regarding why the scheme was necessary:
"The shipping industry was doing pretty well nothing. In the past, any ship was much like another, and ships polluted like mad. We hope this will act as a catalyst for the industry to become not only sustainable, but also more profitable,"
Of course, the database will only work if customers use it to specify how they want their goods to travel. But with carbon labeling beginning to make an appearance, more and more companies are trying to understand the true carbon footprints of the goods they produce—and to do what it can to reduce them. Demanding that the shipping industry do its part seems like a good way to start.
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