Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions in the Shipping Industry

Shipping produces significant greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) along with other harmful pollutants that result in premature deaths and reduce ecosystem services. Based on our analysis of data with the shipping company Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement, we have found that, on average, ship captains can cut up to 35% of current CO2 emissions by implementing fuel-efficient best practices. This research project will take a novel approach to optimizing operational decision-making. We will offer captains personalized feedback, targets, and incentives via a software system. A similar approach has been used in the aviation sector (Gosnell et al., 2020).

The proposed field experiment will be the first test of how changing management practices affect fuel efficiency in the shipping industry. Partnering with a maritime firm, Bernhard Schulte Management, the software system will analyze fuel data from Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement vessels and provide individual feedback for captains in the treatment group during a nine-month period. The feedback will focus on discrete captain behaviors, such as power management of engines, speed reduction, and route optimization. We will also financially incentivize fuel-efficient behaviors. Equipped with accurate daily data from vessels, the project partners will directly measure the outcomes of interest: CO2 emissions per captain, fuel efficiency, and overall productivity. The trial results could pave the way for scaling up these management interventions across the maritime industry, thus promoting cost-effective solutions to the problem of climate change.

RFP Cycle:
Fall 2020
United States of America
  • Pilot project