Exploring how transnational environmental governance and the operation of global value chains (GVCs) intersect is key in explaining the circumstances under which mandatory disclosure can improve the environmental footprint of business operations. We investigate how the governance dynamics of the tanker shipping value chain (a major emitter of greenhouse gases) limits the effectiveness of the European Union (EU) monitoring, reporting, and verification (MRV) regulation, which mandates the disclosure of greenhouse gas emissions for ships calling at EU ports. Although MRV seeks to help shipowners and ship managers save fuel and reduce emissions, it does not address the complexity of power relations along the tanker shipping value chain and currently cannot disentangle how different actors influence the design, operational, commercial, and ocean/weather factors that together determine fuel consumption. In particular, the EU MRV neglects to reflect on how oil majors exert their power and impose their commercial priorities on other actors, and thus co-determine fuel use levels. We conclude that, in its current form, the EU MRV is unlikely to lead to significant environmental upgrading in tanker shipping. More generally, we argue that regulators seeking to facilitate environmental upgrading need to expand their focus beyond the unwanted behaviors of producers of goods and providers of services to also address the incentive structures and demands placed on them by global buyers.
The report is organized as follows. The introduction will lay out the current state-of-play of eco-efficiency and the zeitgeist of the current situation on maritime that we find ourselves in, in 2020. The next section will provide some historical context looking back to 2010 and 2000 to trace the trajectory and developmental course on which we are. The core contribution of this report is the Maritime Operations Roadmap that can be found in Figure 1 on page 9. This illustration plots the expectations for technological capabilities and policy from 2020 to 2030.
Ports are crucial hubs in the functioning of the global economy, and maritime transport is a major emitter of air pollutants. Ports have considerable potential for promoting environmental upgrading in maritime transport and along global value chains more generally, but so far have been only partially successful in doing so. We examine results, limitations and future potential of voluntary initiatives that have been carried out by selected European and North American port authorities, which are considered frontrunners in environmental management. Drawing from the insights of global value chain analysis and organizational theory, we find that low ‘tool implementation complexity’ and high ‘issue visibility’ concerning emissions are key facilitators of environmental upgrading. We suggest that ports can intervene in two main ways to improve the environmental performance of maritime transport beyond their organizational and physical boundaries: by lowering tool implementation complexity through stronger collaboration within global value chains; and by enhancing emission visibility through alliances with cargo-owners and regulators.