Charter on Maritime Freight Transport: Aligning Global Shipping with Society Goals

October 7, 2020

The Charter on the Shipping of Goods sets a new benchmark for responsible shipping, transparent climate reporting and improved decision-making in line with the United Nations decarbonization goals. A group of the world's largest energy, agriculture, mining and commodity trading companies will assess and disclose the climate alignment of their shipping activities for the first time.

Large industrial companies are major users of international shipping services. Maritime transport of crude oil, coal, iron ore, cereals and other bulk commodities used around the world constitutes more than 80% of global maritime trade. The Maritime Transport Charter is a global framework that allows integrating climate considerations into chartering decisions to favor climate-friendly maritime transport.

The Maritime Transport Charter establishes a common baseline to quantitatively assess and reveal whether the maritime transport activities are aligned with the adopted climate objectives. The Shipping Charter is consistent with the policies and ambitions adopted by the member states of the International Maritime Organization (IMO), a specialized agency of the United Nations charged with regulating maritime transport. This includes its ambition to peak greenhouse gas emissions from international shipping as soon as possible and to reduce total annual greenhouse gas emissions from shipping by at least 50% from 2008 levels for 2050, with a particular emphasis on zeroing emissions.

"A standard greenhouse gas emissions reporting process will simplify some of the complexities often associated with reporting. It will encourage a more transparent and consistent approach to tracking emissions, which will be a key part of the maritime transport is more sustainable"

Jan Dieleman, President of Cargill Ocean Transportation and Chairman of the Shipping Charter drafting group.

"The shipping sector as a whole needs to adopt a transparent approach, advocated by the Shipping Charter, to fully understand the sector's global greenhouse gas footprint and so that we can collectively address the challenges ahead. "

Rasmus Bach Nielsen, Global Head of Fuel Decarbonization at Trafigura.

“The Maritime Transport Charter is an important step in laying the foundations for a net-zero emissions maritime industry.” Collaboration like this, across the sector, is vital to increasing customer demand for low or zero emission shipping. This same spirit of collaboration is also vital in pursuing the technological advances needed to unlock decarbonisation solutions, and in building industry support for regulation that can create an ambitious but equal playing field on which to invest. Building on this momentum, we would like to see the IMO use its 2023 strategy review to set the sector's trajectory to move to net zero emissions by 2050,"

Grahaeme Henderson, Global Head of Shell Shipping & Maritime

The 17 founding signatories to the Ocean Freight Charter include Anglo American, ADM, Bunge, Cargill Ocean Transportation, COFCO International, Dow, Equinor, Gunvor Group, Klaveness Combination Carriers, Louis Dreyfus Company, Norden, Occidental, Shell, Torvald Klaveness, Total, Trafigura, and Ørsted. All other responsible carriers are invited to join the initiative.

"The Sea Freight Charter enables leaders from various industry sectors to use their influence to drive change and promote the green transition of shipping by choosing shipping that is in line with agreed climate targets rather than one that is not."

Johannah Christensen, Managing Director, Head of Projects and Programs of the international non-profit organization, World Maritime Forum.

The Shipping Charter is intended to evolve over time as IMO adjusts its policies and regulations and as new adverse environmental and social impacts are identified for inclusion. They are also intended to support other initiatives developed to address climate, environmental and social risks in shipping, such as the Poseidon Principles.

Sea freight chartering is applicable to bulk charterers with an interest in cargo on board; to those who simply charter the vessels on which they charter; as well as the owners of available vessels and all charterers in a chain of charterers. They apply globally, to all chartering activities in which a vessel or vessels are under IMO competence.

The development of the Shipping Charter has been spearheaded by global shippers

  • Anglo AmericanCargill Ocean Transportation
  • Dow, Norden, Total, Trafigur
  • Euronav
  • Gorrissen Federspiel
  • Stena Bulk
  • World Maritime Forum,
  • Smart Freight Center
  • University College London / UMAS Institute of Energy

Access to the document:

For more information: Head of Communications, Torben Vemmelund at or +45 2224 1446.


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