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Influence of the Shipper on the Carbon Intensity of Deep-Sea Container Supply Chains: Results of an Interview Survey
This report examines the role of shippers in efforts to cut carbon emissions from maritime supply chains. It focuses on four key parameters that influence the level of emissions: supply chain structure, container fill, the movement of empty containers and logistical adaptation to slow steaming. The study adopted a ‘triangulation’ approach comprising focus group discussions, an online-questionnaire survey and an interview survey. The latter survey, which is the main focus of this paper, involved a combination of face-to-face and telephone interviews with managers in fifteen large shippers based in the UK, the US, the Netherlands, Switzerland and China. It found that , across the four parameters, large shippers can exert significant leverage on carbon emissions. The insertion of consolidation and deconsolidation centres into container supply chains and a move to port-centric logistics can yield net carbon benefits. Although shippers currently achieve high levels of container fill, the potential exists for further improvements. Shippers can play only a supporting role in rationalising the repositioning of empty containers and exploiting the limited opportunities for backloading empty boxes. Most shippers have been able to adapt their global supply chains to the carbon-reducing slow steaming of deep-sea container vessels at minimal extra cost and disruption.
The research was funded by the UK Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council as part of its Low Carbon Shipping programme.
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