Innovations That Inspire

Carbon Emissions Accounting Guidelines for Maritime Transport Enterprises

Recognition Year(s): 2024
School: School of Management, Jinan University
Location: China

The Carbon Emissions Accounting Guidelines for Maritime Transport Enterprises, proposed and co-written by researchers at Jinan University’s Key Laboratory of Human-Nature Life Community, provide maritime transportation enterprises with standardized methods for carbon emissions accounting.

Call to Action

Faculty members of the School of Management (SoM) at Jinan University have cooperated with researchers from such fields as ecology, environmental science and engineering, industrial economics, and environmental economics to conduct cutting-edge interdisciplinary research on climate change and establish accounting standards for carbon emissions of maritime transportation enterprises.

Coping with climate change is an integral part of U.N. Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) 13, Climate Action. Among the actions proposed to mitigate climate change, controlling carbon emissions is undoubtedly considered by the U.N. and most countries as one of the most vital. China’s strategy is to peak carbon emissions and reach carbon neutralization; accordingly, the country has focused on the green transformation of production and lifestyle. In compliance with China’s Action Plan for Carbon Dioxide Peaking Before 2030 policy, business leaders will need to take some positive measures toward achieving the plan, including optimizations to industrial structure and energy structure, infrastructure upgrades focused on energy conservation, and green-technology innovations and applications.

The urgency of climate change requires not only prompt action but also a more transparent framework, increasing demands on the research field of carbon emissions accounting. A standardized accounting system should therefore be established to provide statistical support in carbon emissions trading as well as performance appraisal and policy formulation. Chinese industries and enterprises will be called to research carbon emissions accounting methodology based on their businesses’ characteristics and to establish a sound accounting system.

The guidelines project is being conducted under the Key Laboratory of Human-Nature Life Community, which is an affiliated research platform of the SoM, funded by the government of the Guangdong Province in China.

Innovation Description

Responding to the appeal of the government and industry, the SoM has conducted prospective research and in-depth exploration of net-zero topics (including green-energy development, low-carbon utilization, and pollution reduction) and of carbon-management topics (including carbon monitoring, carbon trade, carbon accounting, and carbon finance). Key Laboratory is one of the significant forces behind this research.

Guangdong Province has a thriving and long-established maritime transportation industry, which the government of China has identified as critical to lowering carbon emissions. As a result, Key Laboratory has created a specialized interdisciplinary team, led by professor Xianzhong Song, president of Jinan University. The team is composed of researchers from accounting, economics, management, environmental science, and other disciplines and is devoted to exploring the methodology of carbon emissions accounting in maritime transportation.

In April 2022, supported by the Department of Natural Resources of Guangdong Province, Key Laboratory proposed the compilation of Carbon Emissions Accounting Guidelines for Maritime Transport Enterprises. With an investment of 5 million yuan (about 704,500 USD) and in conjunction with the Guangdong Ocean Association, the China Emissions Exchange Guangzhou, and Guangdong Yixun Science and Technology Co. Ltd., the guidelines were finished and reviewed in March 2023.

The guidelines stipulate the carbon accounting boundary, accounting method, carbon emission intensity index, and quality assurance of maritime transportation enterprises; they also provide standards for reports and filing.

Innovation Impact

The carbon emissions guidelines were officially published on China’s National Association Standard Information platform in March 2023. As a recommendation, the guidelines will supplement the national standards and reflect the growing ecological trend in the maritime industry. Though the guidelines apply to emissions accounting and maritime reporting in Guangdong, they could also serve as a reference to the maritime transportation industry across China.

As the primary outcome of the laboratory’s research, the guidelines are a solid response to the U.N.’s SDGs on climate action and to China’s carbon-peaking and carbon-neutrality goals. The successful implementation of the carbon emissions project emphasizes the beneficial role of cutting-edge interdisciplinary research in promoting the SoM’s strategic focus of sustainable development.

To boost research output and share the SoM’s advanced experience of carbon accounting with society, the laboratory collaborated with Guangzhou Shipyard International Company Ltd. to launch Guangdong Maritime Transportation Carbon Emissions Accounting Demonstration Base. With the guidelines as its foundation, this platform will further promote economic cooperation, technological synergy, service sharing, and talent cultivation in marine carbon emissions accounting. The platform will also establish a demonstration benchmark for continued research of carbon emissions accounting in Guangdong Province’s marine industry. This experience in Guangdong can be shared throughout China and the world.

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