A pilot environmental, social and governance (ESG) index has been launched that will give shipowners a rating on their sustainabvility reporting, and its creators are asking for companies to share their data ahead of its planned launch.

At Petrospot’s Transparency in Shipping and Bunkering Forum at the start of London International Shipping Week, University of Plymouth lecturer in marine economics Stavros Karamperidis said the study aims to develop a unified ESG reporting tool that can provide a standard which can be used by private companies using publicly available information.

He said at present ESG reporting is voluntary but those companies that are producing reports are using different ways of quantifying data and including some factors but not others.

The ESG index has been “tailor-made” for the shipping industry.

The marine economist urged shipowners to sign up at the link on the project’s website, theesgindex.org, and participate to get a scoring for their company.

Karamperidis told TradeWinds that companies will receive a rating on their ESG reporting from 0 to 100.

The overall scoring is going to be public. But Karamperidis said companies can talk to the team about how they can improve different areas then they can have face-to-face discussions.

Karamperidis said the team already has some data to work with but to make the launch of the index viable they need as many participants as possible.

They aim to increase the number of companies to 100 by the end of this year. “That will make it fly,” he said.

“We are hoping by January 2024 it will be live,” he said.

Karamperidis said filling in the information is very straightforward if companies have it.

He pointed out that this is data that companies should already have. “We are not asking them to reinvent the wheel,” he added.

Explaining the work that has gone into the new index and how it functions, National & Kapodistrian University of Athens shipping department assistant professor Michael Tsatsaronis said work on the ESG index started four years ago.

The ESG reports of 70-listed companies on several stock exchanges were analysed and a methodological framework was created and tested by industry.

National & Kapodistrian University of Athens assistant professor of quantitative methods in shipping Michael Tsatsaronis said the new index aims to measure all three pillars of ESG. Photo: Lucy Hine

He said the main priorities were to create something practical for the industry and use data it is already measuring.

The new index aims to measure each of the three pillars of ESG, Tsatsaronis said. It covers 10 factors for environmental, 11 for social and 14 for governance factors.

It produces a weighted average that will be re-evaluated by an advisory committee every two years.

Karamperidis said sustainability in shipping is becoming key. But to link the ability to access finance with what a shipping company is doing, it is necessary to create a tool like this that investors can use.