2014:6. ZVT. Mattias Rust, the World Wildlife Fund. Almedalen

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Indexing for greener shipping

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It won’t be long before we have five billion consumers who are increasingly environmentally conscious and make flexible choices online. And as it stands, maritime transport exists almost entirely outside of this niche market, says Mattias Rust, Maritime Officer at WWF. Is indexing a solution? Listen to the interview in Swedish or read the English translation.

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Mattias Rust of WWF, the World Wildlife Fund, what’s your opinion of incentives to encourage safer and more environmentally efficient sea transport? And what do you think about indexes in particular?

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“At WWF we think indexes are really exciting. We’ve worked a lot with indexes before in relation to both fishing and forestry, and they’ve been very successful. And you could say it all depends on the middle classes, as they are the ones who have the money and beliefs to make a choice about their consumption. It's not just about basic needs and survival, it’s about making a decision based on your beliefs. There are currently around two billion people who fall into the middle class category. By 2030 we estimate that there will be five billion people belonging to the middle class. That’s quite a large rise. And keep in mind that online shopping is getting more popular all the time. If when you go shopping you can only go to the closest place and choose from what they have in stock, then you are fairly restricted in your options, but with the advent of online shopping you can choose exactly what you want according to your own beliefs.

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So the expected rise in what we can call ‘decisions based on beliefs’ is not proportional to the number of people belonging to the middle class. This rise will be even steaper since we can buy from almost anywhere we want. At the same time, awareness of the environment, environmental impact and how we benefit from maintaining a good environment, and how important this is for us, is also growing. Basically it won’t be long before we have five billion consumers who are increasingly environmentally conscious and make flexible choices online. And as it stands, maritime transport exists almost entirely outside of this niche market. They only really take on the orders they have, but there is an enormous niche market here for them to exploit.

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As I said, we’ve worked with fishing, fish farms and the forestry sector and even Ikea, for example, uses certified wood to an ever greater extent. So there’s been an enormous shift in practice. And in part this is an exciting niche market simply because it’s a money-spinner. Some companies decide to invest in niche products that offer more than what is legally required but meet consumer demands, this niche is identified and then money is made at the same time as benefiting the environment. Having said that, we are calling for increasingly strict environmental regulations. It will become more and more expensive to have a negative impact on the environment in some way. So it’s also a question of an inner drive to be better and do better before the lash falls or it quite simply becomes cripplingly expensive.

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Finally, when it comes to this type of indexing that helps to promote improvements, this type of improvements, well the law is often ten or twenty years behind society, by which time everyone wants the measures in question, and who then has a product to export? That’s right, the party which has already solved the problem, tested it and knows the solution works; the party with something to sell. So there are many good opportunities associated with working with indexing to help the situation, which create an incentive to do things in a better way. As there are countless other much more, how can I put it, anti-business incentives which are going to drive this change forwards in order to achieve greener shipping, if the maritime transport industry itself can do this though a positive incentive like an index then so much the better.”

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Thank you Mattias!

Jul 18, 2014, 01:31 PM
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