Navigating The Cost Of Decarbonizing In The Shipping Industry


  • BCG’s latest survey reveals that while green shipping gains momentum, cargo owners’ willingness to pay for decarbonization falls short of levels required for significant progress.
  • Subscale alternative-fuel production, shifting regulations, and budget gaps are key barriers.
  • To overcome these challenges, cargo carriers must identify growth opportunities, capture untapped customer segments, and be early movers in green shipping initiatives.

The maritime industry, responsible for roughly 3% of global carbon emissions, faces an urgent need for decarbonization. Despite being a vital component of global trade, the industry’s environmental impact necessitates immediate improvement to support broader decarbonization efforts.

Progress Towards Decarbonization

Significant developments in regulations, technological innovations, alternative fuel availability, and corporate commitments mark a turning point in the industry’s journey towards decarbonization. However, cargo owners’ willingness to pay (WtP) for green shipping falls short of levels required for substantial progress.

Identifying Barriers to Progress

BCG’s survey identifies three major barriers hindering the progress of green shipping: subscale alternative-fuel production, shifting regulatory requirements, and budget gaps among cargo owners. These challenges impede the industry’s ability to convert commitments into tangible actions.

Overcoming Challenges through Strategic Actions

To accelerate progress towards decarbonization, cargo carriers must proactively identify growth opportunities and take decisive actions. Capturing untapped customer segments, such as those with Scope 3 commitments or viewing regulations as opportunities, is essential. Additionally, being an early mover in green shipping initiatives allows carriers to secure a competitive advantage.

Strategic Recommendations for Carriers

Developing a holistic go-to-market strategy, collaborating across the value chain, and proactively taking transformational steps are essential for carriers to succeed in green shipping. These recommendations emphasize the importance of leadership, organizational readiness, digital capabilities, financial alignment, and effective communication.

Seizing Opportunities Amidst Challenges

While the journey towards decarbonization poses challenges, it also presents opportunities for cargo carriers to lead the industry towards sustainability. By championing green shipping initiatives and leveraging effective strategies, carriers can contribute to a sustainable future while driving business growth.

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Source: BCG