Investors should shun shipowners who remain indifferent to climate change, and prioritise those who are actively cutting carbon emissions, an influential voice has urged.

Former Lauritzen chief executive Mads Peter Zacho said shipowners who are hesitating about taking action should now get off the fence and set ambitious targets.

“For the investors here today, if you are looking at a company that doesn’t measure and disclose their carbon footprint I think that is a red flag,” he told the Marine Money conference in London.

Addressing shipowners he said: “You need to know your footprint and disclose it. And if you don’t do that already then this is the time to do it.”

Zacho is now head of industry transition at the Maersk McKinney Moller Center for Zero Carbon Shipping in Copenhagen after leaving Lauritzen when it split its operations into two divisions.

Leadership from forward-looking shipowners would be crucial in the coming months as the industry faced up to the climate change agenda.

He said the biggest factor seen today was hesitation. “Some are convinced already, some don’t want to do it, and some are sitting on the fence in between.”

“Hesitation is a major issue,” but added that the solutions were “really simple”.

The Maersk McKinney Moller Center is a not for profit organisation set up in 2020 to lead research and co-ordination of the action towards cutting shipping’s carbon footprint.

After the first task of measuring and disclosing your carbon footprint, the second is to set an ambitious target, Zacho said. “Show that you are part of the solution, the leadership, that is taking us towards zero carbon.”

Laying out a clear decarbonisation strategy, and linking management’s ‘scorecard’ to success is the next vital step.

“The fourth is real action,” he concluded. “Make sure it is disclosed in your sustainability report. This is to get going!”