From plans to pave over wetlands to allegations of illegal logging, agri-business giant Cargill has plenty of links to environmentally questionable behavior. Legitimate questions remain about whether any monolithic corporation can pursue a path of true sustainability.
But it is also true to say that with size comes influence. And when the Cargills of this world decide to do something right, the knock on effects can be profound - even game changing.
It's in this context that we should evaluate news, reported over at Business Green, that Cargill and two other major ship charterers are pledging to stop using ships with the worst efficiency ratings, with a view to pushing ship operators to upgrade their fleets and improve performance:
Cargill announced the plan yesterday alongside chemicals company Huntsman and oil trader UNIPEC UK, which together charter ships for transporting over 350 million tonnes of commodities each year, accounting for around eight per cent of the world's cargo. The three companies said they will only use the greenest vessels as ranked by vetting service RightShip and published on ShippingEfficiency.org, a website established by Richard Branson's Carbon War Room NGO.
Whether the stated aim of using "only the greenest vessels" is an accurate description might be somewhat debatable. According to the Business Green article, as the company is currently only excluding ships rated G or F (on a scale of A-G).
Nevertheless, this is obviously a feather in the cap of Richard Branson's Carbon War Room which has pioneered ship efficiency ratings. And while Cargill has already experimented with kite-powered shipping, there's a case to be made that company-wide policies like this one—however incremental—will do more to encourage the kind of industry-wide innovation and efficiency that the Cargill has made public commitments to fostering.