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  • Image Christian Flatum
    • Sustainability ESG

    Sustainability – all talk, no action?

    The shipping industry has been struggling for many years. Prices are now low, and the sustainable options are good. It's a golden opportunity to invest sustainably. Sadly, not much is happening.

    The pandemic threw the entire shipping industry into turmoil. Everything was put on hold. The spread of infection among port workers, drivers and warehouse workers led to even more shutdowns.

    The pandemic set a record for high prices

    In the third quarter of 2020, the price of a container increased from around USD 2 000 to USD 16 000. Two years later, this was still the new normal. Paying almost ten times as much for a shipping container became the new normal. We broke records - the highest sea freight prices ever were a fact.

    How did this happen? Well, after the pandemic, the demand exploded. But containers were stuck in ports or waiting to be unloaded. At the same time, new container production had almost completely stopped in the first five months of 2020.

    In other words, the market was very uncertain, and costs were high across the board. Our customers were not able to prioritize sustainability.

    Action now!

    Now, a few years later, we see a new market. We see prices that are lower than ever. We see that biofuel costs as much now as it did then. In other words, making sustainable choices should be easy.

    Media reports daily on natural disasters, melting ice and warming seas. At every company presentation and board room, we hear customers say, "we are a sustainable company". We always agree that we must do everything we can to reach the UN's 1.5-degree target. To save the planet, and the people living on it. We need to come together, to create a better future together.

    Majority still hesitant

    Of course, we have many good examples of customers doing their bit. But the vast majority are still hesitant. Even though we´re talking about the biggest global challenge of our time.

    Sustainable solutions are available. Shipping sustainable will be a prerequisite to be competitive in the very near future. Sustainable transport is more than last-mile delivery.

    I hope to see a larger demand for sustainable Ocean freight. Because it makes a difference. But I do ask myself, will we only be carbon neutral once it is cost neutral?

    Christian Flatum, Cluster Head of Ocean Freight, DB Schenker

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