John Swire & Sons (JSS) has signed a long-term partnership agreement with the Maersk Mc-Kinney Moller Center for Zero Carbon Shipping.

London-based JSS, the parent of the Swire Group, which includes China Navigation, Swire Shipping and Swire Bulk, will collaborate with the centre to "explore opportunities to fund and research practical solutions to accelerate decarbonisation in the shipping industry".

Bo Cerup-Simonsen, who was named chief executive of the centre in June last year, said he had great expectations of what the partnership will achieve.

"As a diversified company, Swire brings experience and knowhow from a wide range of segments and can help us bridge learnings across disciplines and sectors, which is essential when you are changing an entire business system," he said.

"We have a shared commitment to fight climate change through innovative and forward-looking solutions and I look very much forward to the collaboration."

JSS director and China Navigation chairman Sam Swire said that becoming a partner in the centre is an exciting step for the group, which in 2022 will have been involved in shipping for 150 years.

"We are committed to a sustainable shipping industry and this partnership allows us to work together with like-minded organisations to help the industry achieve that goal," he said.

Best practice

CEO Bo Cerup-Simonsen stresses the importance of the centre's partnership with industrial players. Photo: Maersk Mc-Kinney Moller Center for Zero Carbon Shipping

"Together with our partners at the centre, we will collectively address decarbonisation issues, develop new technologies and exchange views on sustainability best practices at an industry level."

Set up with a DKr400m ($65m) donation from the AP Moller Foundation — the Moller family institution that has a controlling stake in one of the world’s biggest and most influential shipping groups — the centre's mission is to help find pathways to taking greenhouse gas pollution out of shipping.

Its team features well-known names including former Lauritzen chief executive Mads Peter Zacho.

Industry collaboration

Swire Shipping and Swire Bulk are investing in new technologies and operational improvements. Photo: Swire Bulk

Cerup-Simonsen repeatedly stressed the importance of the centre's partnership with industrial players as being central to its collaborative approach.

It already has a powerful network, with staff secondments for projects from Alfa Laval, ABS, AP Moller-Maersk, Cargill, the Environmental Defense Fund, Danish Shipping, Haldor Topsoe, MAN Energy Solutions, McKinsey & Co, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Mitsui & Co, Norden, NYK Line, Seaspan Corp, Siemens Energy and TotalEnergies.

Swire Shipping, which has a major presence in the Asia-Pacific region, has set itself an ambitious target of reducing its greenhouse gas footprint to net zero, preferably well before 2050.

Simon Bennett, general manager for sustainable development for the shipping companies under Swire Group, told TradeWinds in a recent interview that the goal is to operate a low or zero-carbon fleet by using alternative fuels.

Bennett said these fuels will most likely be determined by the availability of alternative fuel types in the geography in which a ship operates.

In the interim, the Swire companies continue to invest in new technologies and operational improvements that they expect will result in even lower fuel consumption and thus further emissions reduction.