Sustainability in the maritime industry

The life cycle assessment of logistics is significantly influenced by the maritime industry. Dr Nils Kemme, Managing Director of HPC Hamburg Port Consulting, knows how it can contribute to the climate change.

  • Interview
  • Ship & Port
  • Climate protection
  • People

There are many ways to improve the carbon footprint of maritime logistics. For example, container ships are increasingly relying on environmentally friendly energy sources such as LNG ("liquefied natural gas"), ammonia or methanol to reduce their CO2 emissions. In ports, the electrification of vehicles and equipment is currently the trend. The use of the first fuel cells should enable a broader use of hydrogen. Dr. Nils Kemme from the management of HPC Hamburg Port Consulting provides an overview of promising approaches.


HHLA Container Terminal Altenwerder is the world's lighthouse terminal.

Dr Nils Kemme, Managing Director of HPC Hamburg Port Consulting

New challenges due to climate change

Climate change is having a significant impact on our planet. It affects plants, animals and us humans. Port operators must adapt to rising water levels. More frequent or more intense storms affect shipping, jeopardize safety at sea and increase insurance costs. Changing weather conditions can make navigation more difficult and supply chains suffer from extreme weather. At the same time, the transportation and logistics sector accounts for around 24 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. The industry is therefore looking for more climate-friendly business models everywhere and innovative solutions are being tried out.


Disrupted supply chains, blocked trade routes

The blockade of the Suez Canal by the Ever Given accident in 2021 had disrupted supply chains for the first time. This was followed by the very severe restrictions caused by the Corona pandemic. But climate change is also changing transport routes, as the limited capacity of the Panama Canal due to prolonged drought shows. Port operators must react, and even new trade routes for shipping are conceivable.

Digital supply chains

Reduction of emissions

Ships currently still rely predominantly on fossil fuels, some of which are harmful to the environment. Replacing such energy sources as quickly as possible would have a significant impact on emissions in the transport chain. Currently, a lot of electrification is taking place in the maritime industry, especially in port facilities. For container ships, however, battery operation is not yet a solution. What alternatives are there?

Shore power systems in Hamburg

Why electrify?

Everything that can be electrified in a port terminal is currently being converted to electric power. In battery mode, many devices can be supplied with green energy and operate emission-free. Where does this technology reach its limits? Would hydrogen, for example, be a sensible propulsion energy? And where could hybrid ships be used? 

Hydrogen at HHLA

Climate success stories

Everyone wants to see how maritime logistics is reducing emissions. HHLA Container Terminal Altenwerder (CTA) delivers! It was the first of its kind to receive a certificate (TÜV NORD) for climate neutrality. Other operators also see the lighthouse project as a role model. Dr Nils Kemme mentions it in the same breath as the Port of Los Angeles. Other ports reward environmentally friendly ships with incentives.

Climate neutrality in the Port of Hamburg

Published 7.8.2023