What are shipowners’ social responsibility toward climate change and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions? If businesses and governments do not rise to the challenge, how can society achieve its reduction goals?

Presently, there are financial assistance programs in the Province of Québec that are aimed at reducing GHG emissions. However, the Québec government’s program only extends to March 31, 2017. Consequently, there isn’t much time left to act.  

Consuming fossil fuel is not without consequence. Atmospheric pollution affects the quality of the air that we breathe and disrupts the chemical composition of the oceans. Despite the fact that maritime transport is a very efficient means of transportation, ships nonetheless produce significant quantities of GHGs.

Our industry’s social responsibility goes beyond the concepts of sustainable development and respect for the environment. It positions the maritime industry as a major societal player entrusted with responsibilities, values, privileges and rights.

Shipowners form part of society and depend on it for their existence. Consequently, they have obligations that stem from this privilege.

Additionally, as members of society, they have a social responsibility to contribute positively to the health of the community and the environment.

To what extent does profit seeking justify not putting in any effort to ensure that our ships burn fuel as efficiently as possible?

These resources, which are both non-renewable and harmful to the environment, require that we at least determine where and how they are used on our ships, whether old or new. Once their energy consumers are measured and quantified, it becomes possible to make appropriate decisions, adjust operating procedures or initiate small-scale projects that benefit the environment and your finances. The energy audit is an indispensable tool in that process.

For the majority of people wishing to do their part in reducing their carbon footprint, it is difficult for them to do so in a meaningful way. Even if they deploy all their efforts, it is rare that a single family can reduce its GHG emissions by more than two tons per year.

We often point out to ship captains that, what a Canadian family can achieve in a year, they can accomplish in a single trip.

By virtue of their capabilities, seafarers and shipowners have a social responsibility toward climate change.

These capabilities also come with a responsibility to do what is needed to help our society achieve its goals.