UCL Energy Institute


Top global trading companies commit to disclosing & reducing shipping emissions with new charter

7 October 2020

Under the Sea Cargo Charter, jointly developed by UCL Energy Institute’s shipping team, 17 of the world’s largest energy, agriculture, mining, and commodity trading companies will publicly disclose the climate alignment of their shipping activities.

Photo of a cargo ship against a sunset background

The Sea Cargo Charter sets a new benchmark for transparent reporting of a company’s climate performance relative to decarbonisation trajectories, and bringing efficiency and GHG emissions to the fore in commercial decision making.

The shipping of crude oil, coal, iron ore, grain and other bulk commodities used worldwide make up over 80% of global seaborne trade. The Sea Cargo Charter is a global framework that allows for the integration of climate considerations into chartering decisions to favour climate-aligned maritime transport of these goods. 

The Charter establishes a common baseline to quantitatively assess and disclose whether shipping activities are aligned with adopted climate goals, consistent with the policies and ambitions adopted by the International Maritime Organization (IMO), which includes GHG emissions from shipping to peak as soon as possible and to reduce shipping’s total annual GHG emissions by at least 50% by 2050 on 2008 levels, with a strong emphasis on zero emissions.

Through the commercial advisory service UMAS, UCL Energy Institute led the development of the methodology and metrics for assessment and decarbonisation alignment in the Sea Cargo Charter. The drafting group included a number of stakeholders including major global shippers – Anglo American, Cargill Ocean Transportation, Dow, Norden, Total, Trafigura – and leading industry players – Euronav, Gorrissen Federspiel, Stena Bulk – with expert support provided by the Global Maritime Forum, Smart Freight Centre, and Stephenson Harwood.

Jean-Marc Bonello, Consultant at UMAS, said:

The Sea Cargo Charter is a big step towards transparency around the carbon intensity of maritime transport, ensuring decarbonisation is integral to decisions-made throughout supply chains. This can lead to ships with better GHG performance being rewarded, and charterers taking more responsibility for their scope 3 emissions.”