As awareness spreads that the shipping industry accounts for a significant proportion of CO2 pumped into the earth's atmosphere, shipping companies are recognising the importance to their competitiveness of showing customers that they take climate issues seriously.
Danish shipping company Torm, for instance, has just announced a climate strategy which sets the target of a 20% reduction in its CO2 emissions by 2020 relative to 2008, reports financial daily newspaper Børsen. Torm believes the goal is realistic.
"It is also ambitious," Torm's managing director Mikael Skov told Børsen. "Our industry association has said that a 15% reduction is a realistic goal. But as one of the leading [Danish] shipping companies we think we should take a step ahead and be a bit more ambitious."
Danish Shipowners' Association deputy director Jan Fritz Hansen comments on Torm's initiative: "It can put pressure on others who so far have not been so ambitious. When you can benchmark yourself in this way, it also means something in the longer term to customers. When an oil company makes its green accounts, it will look at what the shipping companies are doing. In that way it becomes a competition parameter."
One of Torm's biggest customers is BP, which is also showing strong awareness of climate and environmental issues. Torm is in no doubt that shipping companies have to show a responsible attitude in this area in order to be able to keep doing business with many of the major oil companies.
A company spokesman told Børsen: "The environment is becoming an elimination parameter. All the oil companies have expectations of our environmental management, and if you aren't doing something today you won't get any business from them."