Last-minute amendments to the COP26 (UN Climate Change Conference) declaration once more demonstrated that consensus is hard-won when decarbonisation is the goal, but the Glasgow summit on global warming also confirmed how closely the world is watching.

Shipping knows that intergovernmental pressure to uphold International Maritime Organization commitments to cut its GHG emissions by 50% by 2050 (against a 2008 baseline) is real and increasing.

The Poseidon Principles, which provide a global framework for assessing CO2 reductions from the point of view of shipping finance, have attracted 28 signatory institutions since their launch in 2019. They represent a loan portfolio of approximately $185bn – nearly 50% of the global ship finance portfolio. Meanwhile, the Sea Cargo Charter, established in 2020, offers a formalised way of assessing an owner’s green credentials from the standpoint of charterers.

Just beyond the regulatory compliance, the players engaging in the shipping business are now required to plan and manage GHG emissions from its operation. The role of classification societies will be pivotal in enabling the transition to a lower-carbon future. Financiers and the shipping companies willing to aim towards carbon neutrality by 2050 will, for example, need clear technical guidance and independent evaluation to ensure that the strategies they adopt are fit for their purpose.

ClassNK Zero-Emission Transition Support Services Photo: ClassNK

In response, ClassNK has extended and rebranded its GHG-related activities as ClassNK Zero-Emission Transition Support Services. The suite of services is designed to give customers the basis to plan, develop and implement zero-emission strategies and manage GHG emissions as part of daily business operations.

One key element covers GHG emissions verification & assessment. Here, ClassNK acts as an independent third party to evaluate CO2 reduction efforts in relation to the Poseidon Principles, the Sea Cargo Charter, and the Clean Shipping Index fairway dues discrimination service. In line with its conventional role, ClassNK also assesses whether owners are meeting their GHG obligations under the Energy Efficiency Index for Existing Ships (EEXI) and the Carbon Intensity Index (CII), which IMO brings into force from 2023.

As part of the Zero-Emission Transition Support Services, ClassNK is providing the tools to manage GHG emissions. An enhanced version of ClassNK's MRV Portal, its well-received CO2 emissions monitoring and reporting software is also scheduled for release before the end of 2021, featuring a simulation function for the CII rating.

The newly developed ClassNK ZETA (Zero Emission Transition Accelerator) is also due to be available within 2021. ClassNK ZETA will augment the certification of a shipping company’s GHG emissions management system, with users able to monitor the CO2 emissions at an individual ship/fleet level. As an integrated data platform, ClassNK ZETA will cater to the needs of a wide range of customers including shipowners, charterers, financial institutions, and cargo owners.

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As shipping’s engagement with COP26 demonstrates, however, the path to a lower carbon society is likely to remain uneven and unpredictable. Therefore, ClassNK Zero-Emission Transition Support Services make provision for GHG Emissions Reduction Support in the developing areas of alternative fuel types, including biofuels. This part of the service is framed by offering insights for customers in terms of EEXI and CII ratings evaluation and analysis.

With many owners fully engaged with the GHG-reduction agenda, the Zero-Emission Transition Support Services menu also offers certification to acknowledge voluntary initiatives. Expecting the need for management systems of GHG emissions, ClassNK provides the related certification service, as a part of Innovation Endorsement (IE), a framework to support customer initiatives that tackle various challenges including environmental issues that require innovative solutions.