Carbon emissions of ocean freight: what is your value at risk?

When looking to invest your savings in a portfolio, you are likely to scout for asset managers with good past performance. It is natural to seek reassurance by examining the history of the returns of a fund. Most often than not, it’s even in the brochure: “Our alpha lambda fund has shown an average past performance of 5.6% per year over the last 10 years”. Should you invest?

On the fallacy of averages.

As a seasoned investor, you know the fallacy of averages. On average, a drunk man will walk in a straight line, right in the middle of the road, with cars driving left and right. On average, the drunk man is alive. In real life however, his walk will take him left and right, randomly. Almost surely, he will hit a car on either side, and die. 

There is no doubting our ability to make wise investment decisions. And, admittedly, the portfolio allocation problem has somewhat been solved today, with a panoply of tools allowing one to make the right choice, factoring in value at risk, volatility, max drawdown, and other metrics.

That’s for investment strategy. In the world of logistics, when talking carbon reduction strategy, why is it that we still rely on averages in 2022?

Carbon emissions of ocean freight.

For the purpose of illustration, let’s consider a transpacific trade, between Shanghai (CNSHA) and Los Angeles (USLAX). We are seeking to estimate the CO2 emissions of one twenty-foot equivalent (TEU) container, the standard unit of measurement of ocean freight.

The Global Logistics Emission Council (GLEC) has designed a framework which unifies methodologies to estimate carbon emissions of all transport modes. For ocean freight, the methodology follows the recommendations of the Clean Cargo Working Group (CCWG), which provides emission factors per trade lane (publicly) and per carrier (for CCWG members). This methodology provides a good baseline for our estimations. From the GLEC methodology document, one can read:

TradelaneContainer typeAggregate average trade lane emission factor, in g CO2/TEU -km
Asia to-from North America WCDry67.1

With these numbers in mind, the CO2 emissions of 1 TEU is 1 TEU x Tradelane Emission Factor x Distance (CNSHA – USLAX) = 0.69 tons CO2. In this simple equation, only the distance is an adjustable parameter. It is commonly accepted that one should use the shortest sailable distance, adjusted by 15% [see GLEC]. But we already see how this will be problematic.

Difficult to make an investment decision based on averages. Difficult to make an allocation decision based on averages. 

Someone working in procurement, at a large retail company, may find himself stuck with this one number: 0.69 tons of CO2 between Shanghai and Los Angeles, whatever the vessel, whatever the sequence of port calls, whatever the fleet or the carrier. 

Difficult to make an allocation decision based on averages!

The physics of ocean freight as the better estimator.

If we look closer at the physics of ocean freight, carriers operate fleets of vessels of different sizes and ages, they form alliances around a particular sequence of port calls (called a service), on which the speed and distance sailed vary. Because of this reality, the CO2 of a portfolio of ocean freight, just like the return of a portfolio of stocks, shows value at risk, volatility, max drawdown, and other metrics.

When moving away from averages, and estimating the CO2 emissions of every vessel assigned to a service sailing the Asia to-from North America WC trade lane, the picture looks like this:

Screen Shot 2022-02-24 at 6.30.29 AM.png

In this picture, each green bubble represents a service operated by a carrier and its alliance, between an Asian port and a North America west coast port. The bubble is placed horizontally on the x-axis depending on the average CO2 of that service. The radius of the bubble shows the volatility in carbon emissions of that service. The more inhomogeneous the fleet of a particular service (and its alliance), the larger the bubble.

Just as in the case of the random walk of the drunk man, what is striking on that picture is the spread of values. The conclusion of our modelling is that the carbon emissions reported by carriers are likely to fluctuate left and right. The amplitude of these fluctuations, and the baseline average is specific to each carrier and its alliance. The good news: there is a lot of room to allocate wisely!

For our specific port pair, Shanghai to Los Angeles, we can look at the specifics of 5 services operated by the 3 largest ocean alliances. We report in the table below the  CO2 emissions averaged across the vessels operating each service. Which service would you pick to reduce your carbon emission bill?

co2 avgco2 minco2 maxco2 stdintensityservice names
1.050.881.180.090.96Alliance Service A
0.610.380.860.140.57Alliance Service B
1.160.911.400.131.09Alliance Service C
0.820.750.980.070.75Alliance Service D
1.060.991.160.070.99Alliance Service E

We notice that the service with the lowest average CO2 values (Service B) is also the most volatile. This means the fleet on this service is heterogeneous in size and age. As comparable transit time and rates, we’d most likely choose service D, which has the best risk / return ratio, as see on the graph below.

The physics of ocean freight shows us there are many more colours to the rainbow than a single average. Like in the case of an investment decision, carbon emissions management starts with an understanding of the right metrics of volatility and risk.

The question remains however, if Searoutes model is a better estimator of the future (than one average value), is the past an even better predictor?

Is the past a good estimator of the future?

To continue our portfolio management analogy, returns and volatility cannot only be based on models. Models are useful to estimate the future, but only the raw data will paint the right picture of the past.

Luckily, data is not a scarce commodity in ocean freight. The AIS revolution has given us the position and the speed of every vessel worldwide, and this comes in handy for our CO2 estimation story. Not unexpectedly, raw data shows a wide variation in distances, and speeds. We plot 3 trajectories of the same vessel, at 3 different time periods.

January 21

July 21


September 21


Focusing on the real trajectories of vessels, we can compute the actual emissions of Service C below.

Vessel imoco2 minco2 maxco2 averageco2 std


Managing carbon emissions in the logistics is a bit like portfolio management. One cannot realistically make good choices solely based on averages. Ocean freight has inherent physics which creates spreads and volatility in carbon emissions. The right model helps frame and estimate these, so the right objectives, and subsequent reduction strategy is put in place. Just like in finance, past data points can be used to better calibrate our models. And, just like with your 401k, your long term trend will converge to your goals.

Let us know if you would be interested in getting detailed carbon emissions data or to further explore your entire logistics footprint and gain control of your logistics carbon emissions today!

Searoutes raises €2.4 million to reduce shippers’ GHG emissions

Marseille, 22 November – Searoutes, the Marseilles-based start-up that helps shippers reduce the carbon footprint of their transport, has announced a €1.3 million financing round led by WSB Beteiligungs, the venture capital firm founded by Wolf Scheder. 

Created in 2019 by Dr. Pierre Garreau and Carsten Bullemer, Searoutes has designed its own, proprietary eco-calculator to compute the carbon footprint of a container along its journey. Incubated and accelerated by ZEBOX, the international incubator and accelerator founded by the CMA CGM Group, the start-up already has some sixty key accounts including Roquette, a global leader in plant-based ingredients for food, nutrition and health markets and Ceva Logistics a global logistics and supply chain company and is rapidly adding new customers.

Technology to help shippers reduce GHG emissions 

Currently, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from transport account for up to 10% of shippers’ total GHG emissions. This is compounded by the fact that calculating emissions in the logistics sector is a laborious task and prone to poor quality data. 

Searoutes sees an opportunity to replace outdated spreadsheets with its data rich API and developed a SaaS platform using its own data and proprietary algorithms to help shippers find ways to reduce their emissions. Searoutes’ technology can process and transform extensive datasets of freight information (historical ship positions, satellite data, engine specifications, schedule information, weather data, etc.) into meaningful information. The start-up helps shippers do more than just report their carbon footprint, by identifying opportunities to reduce and better manage their greenhouse gas emissions. 

For example, a shipper can reduce their GHG emissions by 30% when making purchasing decisions by choosing newer, larger and slower fleets, and by up to 60% by choosing the right combination of ports and mode of transport when planning a door-to-door route.

Becoming the standard in GHG transparency for freight transport

Searoutes aims to become the standard in GHG transparency for freight transport, and its “data first” approach is already leading the way. The deal will fund the acceleration of the deployment of the solution to shippers and freight forwarders as well as other related technology platforms. Searoutes is also continuing to invest in research, in partnership with AI laboratories, to optimise the door-to-door loading-unloading cycle. 

Dr. Pierre Garreau, Founder and Managing Director adds “Shippers have to deal with purchasing and managing logistics throughout the entire supply chain, not just the ocean piece. We need to help them shape better procurement strategies. For instance by choosing greener modes of transport, or more appropriate port of loading or discharge. Searoutes’ vision is to give more visibility to green carriers, and enable shippers to select them more proactively.”

International Recognition

Wolf Scheder-Bieschin, leading the seed investment round through WSB Beteiligungs GmbH, added: “Searoutes is rapidly winning over international transport professionals with its innovative approach. 

Searoutes services bridge the gap between current market solutions and a need to tackle climate change issues facing the supply chain and maritime industries. I’m impressed by the technology and R&D in place at Searoutes for developing powerful complex algorithms to analyse and process data. This offers a significant advantage for everyone involved in the industry.”

The funding round includes several investors with significant expertise in logistics and freight transport, including OHB venture Capital GmbH, the venture capital arm of the OHB Group, Team ABC venture, CMA CGM, a world leader in maritime transport and logistics, and angels such as Thomas Sørbø, founder of the leading ocean freight rate benchmarking and market intelligence platform, Xeneta. 

In addition, in August this year, the start-up was awarded a grant of €1.1 million from the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF), financed by the European Commission as part of the project n°101038570 “CO2NTROL” in partnership with BuyCo, bringing Searoutes’ total funding to €2.4 million. 

About Searoutes

Searoutes is a start-up specialising in innovative digital solutions for the sea, air and logistics sector. It was founded in Marseilles, France, in January 2019. The company was set up by two co-founders – Dr. Pierre Garreau and Mr. Carsten Bullemer, two sailing enthusiasts and experts in the logistics and maritime industries. Searoutes is the first distance calculation service that uses historical ship data collected from AIS signals. The company developed the backbone of its routing algorithms in collaboration with LIS – QARMA at the University of Aix-Marseille. Searoutes provides the maritime and logistics industry with real-time routes and a CO2 emissions calculator to encourage more environmentally friendly routing and greener freight transport. Searoutes joined the ZEBOX fast track program in January 2019. It also has an office in Hamburg, Germany, to forge new partnerships in the logistics industry. 

About OHB

OHB SE is a German space and technology group and one of the leading independent forces in the European space industry. With over 3,000 highly qualified employees and 14 locations in 10 countries, the OHB Group is excellently positioned to face international competition and has made a name for itself as a reliable partner for government institutions and private companies. OHB SE's activities are spread across three business units: Space Systems, Aerospace and Digital. While satellite systems and space missions are realised in the Space Systems segment, the Aerospace segment is a major supplier to the European aerospace industry. The third and newest business unit, Digital, combines launch services, satellite operations and the development of IT applications based on satellite data.

About Team ABC

Team ABC is an international venture capital fund that invests in sustainability and digital transformation in the transportation and tourism industries.Team ABC finds, supports and scales early-stage disruptive technology focused on increasing sustainability and digital transformation. The Fund is headquartered in Dublin, Ireland and operates globally. Team ABC mentors early-stage products with large potential market opportunities that solve a clear industry problem.

3 ways to reduce co2 emissions from sea freight

Remember that reducing CO2 in the logistics is a multipoint process. Historically, shippers — companies who need to move goods from point A to point B — have access to a quarterly report built atop their shipment history. This report summarizes scope 3 emissions, i.e. all emissions related to moving goods, and aggregates them per mode, to present a synthetic view of emissions. In essence that report is static, it presents one KPI — the quarterly CO2e emissions — with which companies are left to adjust their CSR strategy, iterate, find ways to reduce that number at the next cycle. This iterative process is slow, every quarter comes one more data point. And it is essentially impossible to relate that figure to a cause. Are emissions up because we had a better quarter, because sales increased, or is it because our logistics and operations suffered. Is it down because we use greener transporters?

Reducing CO2 emissions, a matter of data.

To make things worse, CSR managers are often left to propose solutions independently of sourcing and logistics. It is difficult to present evidence supporting a particular CO2 reduction strategy over another. And, to add fuel to the fire, the evidence gathered relies too often on data coming from carriers — which is difficult to compare, and sometimes difficult to trust! — or from emissions calculators with outdated methodologies. Too often, we see initiatives based on the (measure — compensate) cycle. What if I told you there is another way?

There is a simple CSR strategy you can implement immediately. It is based around iterations on the (tender — source — report) cycle. All you need is better data. Before looking into it, let’s imagine you are VP Procurement at a large shipper, and that your KPI is to reduce the cost of freight in year n+1. What tools do you put in place, which actions do you take?

Most likely, you will seek transparency on your buying price, for a certain volume on a given route. You will want to compare it across carriers during tenders. During the quarter, procurement will execute on the nominated routes. And, at the end of the quarter, you will review the shipments actually done, and reconciliate. You’ll use the results of reconciliation in the next tender, to improve your bottom line.

As VP CSR seeking to reduce the GHG Emissions of freight — your scope 3! — your strategy is exactly the same: nominate (tender) — measure (spot) — learn (report). Let’s see it work in practice.

Tender — Know your CO2 per services.

In previous blog posts, you have seen how CO2 can be measured either using default data, detailed modeling or primary data. At Searoutes, we’re using detailed modeling to estimate the amount of emissions a vessel emits, for a particular route between a port pair, at a particular speed. We use schedule data and routing algorithms to reconstitute the fleets operation between port pairs, for each carrier and their alliance. The result is what we call a “CO2 risk profile”, per carrier. That risk profile allows shippers to choose a particular carrier during tender, given a CO2 target set by CSR.

In the picture bellow, we show for each route, and for each carrier, the average CO2e emissions per TEU. CO2 values are reported on the x axis, and routes & carriers are on the y axis. Each circle represents an offering by a carrier, or service, on which it operates a fleet. The diameter of a circle shows the heterogeneity of a fleet on that service, it’s the standard deviation of CO2 on that service. A small circle means all the vessels on that service are about the same age, and sail at the same speed, to emit similar CO2e / TEU. A large circle means there are very different vessels sailing the same service, in tonnage, speed and age. Finally the color of circles shows how fast a particular service is: a blue circle means a short transit time, and an orange circle shows a long transit time.

When looking at this picture, there are 2 immediate remarks to be made. First, different carriers end up with similar CO2 risk profiles. How can that be? The answers lies in the fact that carriers, via their alliance mechanics, share the same fleets on a particular service. Therefore the CO2, and its standard deviation, are similar for carriers offering the same port pairs, across the same alliance. Second, high Co2e values (right of the picture) correlate with higher transit times (orange circles). Likewise, low CO2e values (left of the picture) correlate with shorter transit times (dark blue circles). This is immediate, since longer vessel rotations mean longer transit times, and therefore longer distances, so higher emissions. It shows that distance naturally has an impact on both CO2 emissions and transit time. And both can be reduced by picking the right services. It is not always the case however, some services with low CO2 come with higher transit time. You can see orange circles on the very left of this graph as well.

Bottom line is, during the tender process, overlaying the right granularity of CO2 data can help you set your company on the right track, to meet you CSR goals. You then need to execute it well, in your spot procurement process.

Spot — Know your vessels.

After CSR has set targets of CO2 emissions per trade lane, or port pair, you are left to execute, as part of the procurement process. When buying freight, your main worry is the cost, to make sure your lead times are respected, and that you find space on vessels (especially these days). However, CO2 values vary drastically, depending on the service you choose, or which vessel operates a particular loop. You can see for instance on the pictures below, a few schedules for 3 carriers between Hamburg (DEHAM) and Los Angeles (USLAX) coming from our Searoutes’ planner tool.

While reporting transit times, indicative price, carrier and number of transshipment, we also report CO2 values per TEU (in green). For the same carrier, the delta in CO2 between services on that port pair can be as large as 81%. Choose wisely!

Let’s look at comparable transit times. We see on the picture below, the 4th option down which shows a service with 2 transshipments and 29 days of transit time. That service emits 1.27 ton CO2 / TEU on average.

On the picture below, a direct rotation with no transshipment shows 2.03 ton CO2 / TEU with the same transit time of 29 days. That’s an increase of 60%!!

Why does a “direct” service emit more CO2? That’s related to the actual length of the rotation (the intermediate stops), the size of the vessel and its speed.

Assuming procurement has made wise decisions over the quarter, in line with the CO2 emission goals you set during the tender, comes reporting at the end of the quarter. This is a time when you check how you’ve performed against your targets, and start adjusting your CO2 strategy.

Report — Know your worst CO2 performers.

Once the month or the quarter is over, it’s time to review procurement decisions, measure relevant KPIs and confront them to the objectives set at the beginning of the quarter. CO2 KPIs often involve the computation of the intensity factors in kg CO2e / It is a measure of how much CO2 is emitted, considering the weight of all the goods transported, and the kilometers traveled. The normalization to allows one to compare values month to month, independently of if volumes or distances have changed (and they most surely did!).

Typically, the monthly report is constructed in the same fashion as the example below 👇

The intensity factor however, does not have any causality link between a CSR or procurement decision, and the actual increase or decrease of that factor. The only way to find out what worked, is to go one level below, look at which shipment incurred abnormally high emissions, and what can be done to remedy it.

One avenue to explore, is how does your footprint compare to averages on the same port pair, or trade lane. Or how does your intensity factor for that port pair compare to last year’s? Isolate the long tail, the outliers, the shipments with significantly higher emissions than the benchmark. You can then look at the offering of other carriers, and put in place policies to frame these shipments in the next tender.

Everything you need to know on the GLEC Framework and the calculation of CO2e emissions

Because a lot of initiatives have been launched using different methodologies, data, and frameworks to compute CO2e emissions, you may not know where to start. 

In this blog post, we focus on the calculation of Scope 3 emissions. The objective is to give you a clear and simple overview on available methodologies and what you have to consider when it comes to CO2e calculation. 

How to find your way through CO2e emission calculation methodologies? 

Good to know: CO2 and CO2e difference. 

CO2e (equivalent) is a unit of measurement designed to compare and aggregate the impact on global warming of all greenhouse gases (GHG) such as nitrous oxide (N2O), methane (CH4), perfluorocarbons, etc. It measures the 100-year global warming potential of GHG. It calculates the heat absorbed by any greenhouse gas for 100 years in the atmosphere as a multiple of the heat that would be absorbed by the same mass of CO2. For example, 1g of CH4 will absorb over 100 years 25 times more heat than 1g of CO2. Hence 1g of CH4 in CO2e is equals to 25gCO2e. CO2e allows to take into account all GHG in the same value representing the impact on global warming; that’s why we calculate CO2e and not only CO2.

Smart Freight Centre to get everyone on the same page.

As of today, there are no ISO standards to measure CO2e in logistics and there exists a lot of ways to do it across modes. Main calculations for logistics emissions are:

  • The GHG protocol but it is not tailored to logistics
  • ISO standards 14064-I based on GHG protocol dec 2018

That is why the Smart Freight Center (SFC) was created in 2013. It aims to make the global freight sector more environmentally sustainable and competitive. SFC brings together the logistic community to compute CO2e in a consistent way across modes through their Global Logistics Emissions Council (GLEC) to meet an efficient and zero-emissions global logistics sector 

In 2016, the SFC released the GLEC Framework, in alignment with Greenhouse Gas Protocol, UN-led Global Green Freight Action Plan and CDP reporting

This is a guide for shippers, carriers and logistics service providers on how to measure and report emissions from logistics operations. To date, this is the only globally recognized methodology for harmonized calculation and reporting of the logistics GHG footprint across the multi-modal supply chain.  

Good to know: An ISO norm planned to be launched in 2022. 

The ISO 14083 norm  “Quantification and reporting of greenhouse gas emissions of transport operations” should be applied in 2022 to provide a single way to compute CO2 widely accepted and followed by industry, governments and investors. GLEC framework and other documents established by the standardization community (EN16258, ISO International Workshop Agreement) will be used as the baseline for standard development ISO.

This framework has taken into account methodologies and initiatives developed to measure CO2e across modes. Here below are the carbon accounting methods used to develop the GLEC Framework.

GLEC Framework for Logistics Emissions Methodologies

As you may know, a lot of providers have arisen to compute the carbon footprint of transport, but they differ from each other as they won’t use the same data and calculations. Some of them are SFC accredited in accordance with GLEC, others follow standard methodologies. How do you find your way? Data and calculation models are key when it comes to choosing your solution provider. Here’s how to make sense of it.

Input data types, CO2e emissions backbone

There are many ways of estimating CO2e emissions depending on the information you have and the level of accuracy you need.  This part aims at presenting the main differences between  the type of data and calculation approach used so that you better understand the offer.

Basically, the differences from the different available calculation methods come from the different data used for the calculation. This data can be of different types : 

  • Primary data;
  • Default data;
  • Detailed modeling.

These different types apply to any data you might need, for example :

  • Fuel consumption;
  • Electricity consumption;
  • Distance;
  • Vehicle specific emission factors;
  • Etc…
Real data from the carrierModels combine shipment data with information on vehicles and fleets in order to model fuel use and emissions.Industry average figures using standard assumptions of vehicle efficiency, load factor and empty running.
Example: Total annual emissions or average emissions per tonne-kmExample : SearoutesExample: SmartWay carrier performance data; Clean Cargo Working Group carrier data
Primary data

In other words, primary data could be called “real data”. Using primary data for CO2e calculation can be the most accurate method but it requires a lot of data that is often not public.

For example, the best method to calculate CO2e emissions is via the fuel consumption, using an emission factor (that converts kg of fuel burnt to kg of CO2e). In order to apply this method, you need the “primary data” : here the fuel consumption of the specific vehicle that carried the shipment from the source to the destination.

For example, suppose you know the vessel consumed 4600t of fuel and transported 15000TEUs. According to the GLEC, for 1g of BFO burnt, 3.41g of CO2e is emitted. Then the emissions of 1 TEU are 4600 * 3.41 / 15000 = 1046kg. 

The primary data can be of any type. For example, if your calculation method is based on the distance, primary data can be the exact distance travelled by your shipment as reported by the carrier instead of an approximation based on the source and destination.

Primary data can also be an aggregate of real data; for example an average value of the fuel consumption of all the vessels of a trade lane of a given carrier for the entire year. In this case, the results of CO2e calculations would be less accurate but still based on real life data.

Advantage : more accurate results if the information reported is complete and granular (depending on the type of data).
Disadvantage : hard to obtain and hard to have consistent data across all the carriers. 

Default data

The name of this data speaks for itself, they are default values that you can use when you don’t have much information on the shipment. 

One of the most well known default data is the GLEC default emission factors. For example on sea, GLEC recommends using the Clean Cargo Working Group emissions factors and on road the Smart Way emissions factors (US specific) and EN 16258 emissions factors. 

For any transport mode, they provide default CO2e emission factors in g/ (or g/ for sea transport). These factors represent the average shipping conditions for this mode and are not specific to your shipment.

For example, suppose you ship one TEU from Shanghai to Antwerp. According to the GLEC default emission factors, the shipment produces 49g of CO2e per km (Asia to-from North Europe trade lane). Using Searoutes route calculator, the distance from Shanghai to Antwerp is approximately 19700km. Hence the CO2e emissions of the shipment will be approximately 965kg CO2e.

Emission factors can be more or less granular but are always aggregate values. For example, you can use a train default emission factor or you can use an electric train default emission factor if you have this information.

Advantage : easy to obtain, easy to use.
Disadvantage : less accurate, cannot be used to implement a reduction strategy.

Detailed modeling

The detailed modeling can be seen as the middle way between primary data and default data. It makes it possible to calculate more accurate CO2e emissions without having access to all the primary data. Of course, among the detailed modelings, different levels of accuracy exist based on the complexity of the model used.

Let us detail a bit with some examples.

Suppose you ship a TEU from Shanghai to Antwerp in a 4000-7000 TEUs vessel. You do not know exactly which vessel your cargo was loaded on but you know its approximate size. Some calculators provide a modelization for vessel types and for some size ranges to be able to calculate CO2e of a type of vessel on a given distance. For our example, you would look for the emission factor of a container ship of around 4000-7000 TEUs and apply it.

Now suppose you know the IMO number of the vessel that carried your shipment. You can model the fuel consumption of this specific vessel and estimate the CO2e emissions of this specific vessel on the given distance. This is what we do at Searoutes.

For example, one TEU from Shanghai to Antwerp would emit 967kg CO2e on IMO 966xxxx vs 930kg CO2e on IMO 972xxxx.

Again, the detailed modeling can be applied to other data like distance. To keep our example of a TEU from Shanghai to Antwerp, detailed modeling can mean estimating the distance travelled using actual services instead of a direct distance. For example, on CMA CGM FAL8, the sequence of ports is the following : Shanghai, Kaohsiung, Yantian, Singapore, Columbo (Sri Lanka), Antwerp which represents around 20,270km (vs 19,700km for the direct route).

Based on the complexity of the models used for each data point, this method is the most granular in case you don’t have access to primary data specific to your shipment.

Advantage : does not need specific data, can be extremely accurate.
Disadvantage : requires sophisticated models.

As a shipper, how can I choose the right CO2e calculator partner?

Before you leave we wanted to share with you some tips to help you choose your CO2e calculation provider.

First, ask yourself: Which data do I wish to use to compute Co2e?

  • Detailed modeling
  • Default values
  • Primary data

Next, below are 4 questions to ask your provider, to evaluate his calculation and data reliability. 

  1. Is your calculation methodology accredited?
  2. Where does your distance data come from?
    • Theoretical distances
    • Direct distances
    • Network distances
  3. Which parameters do you take into account to compute CO2e?
    • Cargo types
    • Vehicle characteristics
    • Fuel types
    • Speed
  4. Can your co2 calculation provider take care of your scope 3 emissions declarations, in compliance with standards methodologies or framework?

Choosing the right partner to help you reduce CO2e emissions becomes a challenge when you don’t have all the ins and outs to make good decisions. But if you are alert to signals that point to solutions that are likely to lack accuracy and reliability, you can choose the right partner to support your CSR strategy. Want to know how Searoutes can help you?

Smart Freight Centre accredits Searoutes CO2 APIs

In 2021, carbon footprint is on everyone’s mind. The Paris Agreement to fight global warming is proof of this. Many industries have joined the cause and are taking part in this common effort. Among them, the logistic industry. As pointed out by Smart Freight Centre, the transport sector represents 23% of global greenhouse gases (GHG) emissions and is the 3rd largest contributor of GHG emissions after industry and buildings. Freight transportation made up for 36% of transport’s emissions in 2015 and is expected to double by 2050 without outside intervention. 

In this context an increasing pressure from regulation and public awareness pushes the industry stakeholders to take actions. It is a challenge today to compute CO2, as historically so many methodologies have been developed in isolation.  Comparing CO2 across different modes of transport can be like comparing apples with oranges. This is the starting point for the Smart Freight Centre, which created the Global Logistics Emissions Council, or GLEC, to make carbon accounting of transport unified across the industry. 

About Smart Freight Centre (SFC)

Smart Freight Centre (SFC)  is  a global non-profit organization dedicated to an efficient and zero emissions freight sector. Their mission is to bring together the global logistics community through the Global Logistics Emissions Council (GLEC) to work towards this.

SFC advises companies on how to develop and implement their company-specific Sustainable Logistics Roadmap using the four ‘Smart Freight Leadership’ steps: report, set targets, reduce and collaborate. SFC also advocates for supportive policy and programs and raises awareness to accelerate sector-wide action.

Present in Europe, the Americas and Asia, SFC collaborates with existing initiatives, international institutions, partner organizations and experts worldwide. They are positioned to lead and coordinate global efforts due to their dedicated purpose to reduce freight emissions, their subject matter expertise and their established network.

Searoutes and SFC Accreditation

Searoutes methodology to estimate CO2 emissions is accredited by Smart Freight Centre to provide calculations of greenhouse gas emissions for freight and logistics operations. The methodology is in conformance with the Global Logistics Emissions Council Framework for Logistics Emissions Methodologies (GLEC Framework) © ® 

Our modeling currently supports the following modes, assets, fuel types and regions:

SFC accredited – so what?

We want CO2 emissions estimation to be seamlessly accessible to logistics stakeholders: Carriers, Freight Forwarders 3PL and 4PL and Shippers. We aim to facilitate the implementation of GHG reduction strategies, with granular data, emissions reporting and decision making. 

CO2 emission calculations are available via API. You can integrate our API at many touch points into your systems. Depending on the granularity of the data you provide (vessel imo, aircraft IATA or just port / airport pairs), we return CO2 emissions based on representative averages, or detailed modelling.

Searoutes can be used at different steps of your carbon footprint reduction strategy:

1/ Tender

To compare the services offered by carriers on a from/to pair.

2/ Report

You can share the data from your shipments in batch or directly integrate our API into your systems to create reports, on a monthly, quarterly or yearly basis. The report structure and elements are accredited to be in alignment with the GLEC Framework.

3/ Analyze

You can use our data to simply explore untapped reduction potentials.

In concrete terms…

As a shipper, Searoutes provides you with automated reports, and analytics to compare emission performance per mode, carrier, service, vehicle. 

As a freight forwarder, Searoutes adapt to your business, structure and use case: tendering, booking, invoicing and/or reporting. 

You are currently working on your CSR strategy and you need a partner to help you find leverages to reduce your carbon footprint ?  

The Routing API behind BunkerPlanner performance

Few months ago, MOL Nordic Tankers announced they would extend the BunkerPlanner solution live trial to their whole fleet (World maritime News). In an interview given in World maritime News, Andreas Sund Poulsen, VP Global Operations, MOL Nordic Tankers A/S said:“The shipping industry is going through a rapid digitalization, and it is critical that we embrace these new technologies and innovations to help manage the challenges that we face as the sector evolves.” SeaRoutes helps BunkerPlanner with their bunker procurement strategy, therefore helping the shipping industry going a bit more digital. Here is the story.

About BunkerPlanner

BunkerPlanner is a state-of- the-art bunker procurement optimization tool. The tool generates a tailored recommendation for how much bunker of each grade to buy and where to buy it. This software allows companies’ bunker purchasing desks to focus on crafting superior bunkering plans. Bunker Planner also identify the most advantageous choice that increases the competitiveness of their fleet.

By using the software, ship owners and fuel buyers can optimize their fuel procurement strategy on a vessel-by-vessel basis, reducing fuel bills by between 2% to 4% (World maritime News).

Why Searoutes’ routing API?

The solution considers a range of factors that impact bunkering decisions, including fuel price forecasts, trade patterns and routes, vessel speed, fuel consumption, time spent in Emission Control Areas (ECAs), as well as costs related to deviations, port calls and barges among others.

Accurate routes and distances are therefore a key criteria for bunker optimization. Indeed reliable information on routes distances help to choose the best bunkering ports depending on the ROB (Remaining on Board), time and costs of the deviation,  distance increasing and extra fuel consumption on the deviation.

A routing web based solution

Searoutes offers the calculation of ship routes and distances, based on AIS signals (AIS = automatic identification system). Our routes are computed from historical AIS, and contain the relevant information for bunker planning: ECA / SECA zones, passages, waypoints, distances and transit times. One can integrate this data via our routing API, which seamlessly render routes and route information in your application.


What’s an API?

For those of you who are non-techies and non-developers, and if you do not understand what APIs are about, Taija Björklund wrote a helpful article on the topic using analogies. The best is the restaurant one: The waiter is the API. You are someone who is asking for service. In other words, you are an API customer or consumer. The menu is the documentation which explains what you can ask for from the API. The kitchen is for example a server, a database that holds only certain types of data — whatever the buyer has bought for the restaurant as ingredients and what the chef has decided they will offer and what the cooks know how to prepare.”


BunkerPlanner leverages data from Searoutes, through their routing API , which makes high quality routes and distances  available to BunkerPlanner’s customers.

“Our service is based all around an API distance tool. It was essential for us to collaborate with an accurate and reliable API solution. We want to provide our customers with the best bunker ports alternatives.”, Christian Plum- Bunker metrics Co-Founder

The routes are combined with schedule, vessel, bunker price and several other data sources to provide high quality forecasts of bunker consumption for hundreds of possible bunker ports.  Users can either input schedule and vessel data directly. Or this can be pulled automatically from vessel management system for easy use. The routes are customized according to vessel size (draft, width) and use of canals and ECA zones.

The Routing API behind BunkerPlanner performance
Figure 1: BunkerPlanner Platform

The interface shows the best unbiased alternatives for planners. Based on their expertise, they are able to make the best choices to reduce bunker costs and meet their sustainability issues.

Do you need an accurate sea distances and routing  API?

You already have a solution and you are looking for real route distances? routes on your map? Or maybe other route information?

Voyage planning: How to save time and get the best route for your vessel?

As mentioned in Maritime Executive, it can take on average 3.5 hours per vessel and even more of officer time to collate a plan – manually adding elements such as ENC cells, journey waypoints and UKC calculations to a report for inspection by port state authorities and other relevant organizations. Voyage planning is laborious and can lead to human error because of repetitive manual input. Multiplied across vessels, companies and fleets it can show inefficiency, for an industry where optimal resource use and cost savings are now more important than ever.

Digital innovations make voyage planning more effective and efficient. Their objective is to minimize operators’ administrative overhead caused by fragmented tools, such as distance tables, port lists, speed consumption curves and multiple excel sheets.

Voyage planning challenges

Voyage planning is an important aspect of the ship route optimization. It helps to better monitor the voyage and the vessel position along the route considering the depth, channels, straits, tides and current, weather etc.

To get the best voyage planning, a lot of information has to be considered from various sources (Charterers, company, old voyages etc.) and International publications (Admiralty Publications). But also vessels parameters (draft, beam, length, air-draft), Piracy area, SECA area, PSSA, recommended route, distance from shore, depth of water, current direction, weather, navigational hazards, TSS, national and international regulations etc. to plot the safest, shortest navigable route and to meet the charterers requirements of laycan.

Input vessel’s draft to Simplify voyage planning

Some digital solutions already exist to plot the shortest and safest route.  But few, if any, can take all above parameters into consideration and return a route specific to your vessel — since vessel as per their size and draft plots route differently — which is the shortest, safest and most navigated (following AIS data) route by the ships.

As an example, let’s consider a vessel with following information:

  • Length: 400 meters
  • Beam: 50 meters
  • Draft: 22 meters
  • Voyage: from Rotterdam, Netherlands to Singapore

Reed’s Marine Distance table: 8350 NM (Via Suez Canal). There is no option to avoid Suez Canal hence HRA area, no particular regard to maximum permissible Suez Canal transit draft. No depicted route etc.

Voyage planning without vessel’s draft input

If we consider ship routing following the solution below, the shortest and safest route from Rotterdam, Netherlands to Singapore for the vessel mentioned above goes through Suez Canal.

Voyage planning: How to save time and get the best route for your vessel?
Figure 1: Others solutions’ route

We get the distance as 8431 NM including 394NM in SECA zone. There is no consideration of Vessel Particulars. No consideration as well if the vessel can pass through Suez Canal, Malacca strait or Singapore strait. Stakeholders have to gather data from various sources (official information, Local agents, ports etc.) to confirm if the vessel with the present draft can sail through the respective canal. This is time consuming, and if not considered can lead to all the wrong calculations and operational management.

Stay focus on your core business, let us do the math

Searoutes  API considers all the vessel parameters and makes the route, vessel specific, since we know the conditions which affect route planning and that routes differ from vessel to vessel as per their draft, beam and length. We know that the shortest, safest route for a small vessel with 5000 dwt will be different from a 200,000 dwt one.  This will have an impact on the distance calculation and therefore will affect all the operational decisions and finally will have a huge impact on the cost.

To calculate the accurate distance and route we integrate below parameters for the user input:

  1. Port of departure (Required)
  2. Port of Arrival (required)
  3. IMO number (for vessel particulars)
  4. Vessel draft
  5. Areas to avoid (Canals/straits, piracy, SECA etc.)
  6. Speed (to get calculated ETA)
  7. Departure time (to estimate ETA, if input is the actual departure time it will return accurate ETA)

Let’s consider the same example for a voyage from Rotterdam, Netherlands to Singapore with the same vessel’s characteristics.

Voyage planning: How to save time and get the best route for your vessel?
Figure 2: Vessel’s – 22mtrs draft – route with Searoutes

After, user input these parameters to get the shortest route, the return will be around the cape of good hope with a distance of 11851.3 NM including SECA distance: 417 NM, and not through Suez Canal (distance: 8481 NM), as the vessel cannot transit the Suez Canal due to Draft Limitation. Furthermore, with the correct and accurate distance you get the correct ETA  it saves valuable time and money. Therefore, if anyone returns the shortest route through Suez, it won’t be accurate. It will lead to all the wrong calculation of ETA, bunker, and all operational decisions. This can have a Huge impact on the company.

Result of Searoutes API, Rotterdam, Netherlands to Singapore, shortest, safest and most navigated route, as per vessel’s particulars. Route going through Cape of Good Hope and Sunda Strait.

Voyage planning: How to save time and get the best route for your vessel?
Figure 3: Vessel’s – 16mtrs draft- route with Searoutes

If we consider the same vessel in ballast condition with draft of 16 mtrs, then the vessel can transit the suez canal with the current draft to load port. This can be easily done with the use of our API.


Searoutes is dedicated to provide the realistic data with accuracy. As for route computation we take into account vessel particulars considering draft, beam, length, navigational hazards, TSS, etc. We return the vessel specific route, as the user input the IMO number of the vessel. Our route is more realistic as we take the data points from the AIS of the vessel.  The returned route is shortest, safest and most navigated. As in Searoutes we know that routes are specific for a given vessel. Indeed the shortest route may not be through a canal but around it. This will have an impact on the ETA, operational decisions, and all other calculations.

Searoutes enables shippers and freight forwarders to choose the greenest carriers

Using actual route data and vessel characteristics obtained from AIS (Automated Identification Systems) data, Searoutes goes beyond the standard methodology and provides CO2 emission calculations that accurately match the services operated by the carriers. Shippers now have an unprecedented decision-making tool to help them choose the services that emit the least CO2 and optimise their transport policy.

In the framework of the Green Deal, the European Commission estimates that a 90% reduction in emissions from the transport sector by 2050 is necessary to achieve the climate ambitions set by the Paris agreement. However, according to the International Transport Forum (ITF), the demand for freight transport should be multiplied by 3 and the associated CO2 emissions by 4 by 2050 (source:

This is what motivated Searoutes, a young startup in the South of France, to develop an innovative CO2 calculation tool. Searoutes does not aim at saving the world of logistics, but certainly wants to participate in its change.

Measuring and comparing carbon footprints to take measured action.

“Improving the performance of supply chains is a central issue for all companies. Not only in economic and commercial terms, but also in environmental terms. The ability to accurately calculate the CO2 emissions of transport services in order to make the best decisions has become a major issue,” says Pierre Garreau, Co-founder and CEO of Searoutes. “There are many criteria that are taken into account and influence CO2. Not only do we need access to huge volumes of data, but we also need to be able to process them to produce usable information. This is a particularly important challenge for maritime transport, which is estimated to account for between 80 and 90% of world merchandise trade.  

So far, the estimation of CO2 emissions from maritime freight between a point A and a point B follows the methodology for calculating and reporting energy consumption and GHG emissions from transport services, or EN 16258. Searoutes is able to go further thanks to its innovative solution based on three key elements:

  • The use of AIS data: Automatic Identification Systems equip all transport vessels and make it possible to know their real identity, characteristics, position, speed and route (GPS data).
  • The integration of all the schedules of the maritime carriers: Searoutes integrates each service operating on each maritime line, taking into account a very high level of detail (number of calls, duration of calls, loading/unloading times, etc.).
  • Proprietary algorithms: the processing of AIS data, which is raw data, requires very high computing power to transform it into usable information. Thanks to machine learning algorithms, Searoutes is able to extract the true distances and speeds, necessary for an accurate Co2 footprint calculation.

With more granular data, Searoutes enables shippers to choose the service and carrier that will emit the least CO2gain visibility on the services that have emitted the most CO2 and optimise their transport policy through automated CO2 reporting for their bookings.

Many players in the logistics sector, from start-ups to large groups, such as CEVA Logistics and  Buyco, trust Searoutes to calculate their customers’ CO2 emissions and other related services. Since the launch of its Co2 Product last May, the startup has a dozen customers on CO2 and expects to triple its turnover by the end of 2020 vs N-1.

Frédéric Obala, Chief Digital & Transformation Officer of CEVA Logistics says “The growing stakes of CO2, a strategic imperative for CEVA Logistics and the CMA CGM Group, lead us to be ever more agile. The flexibility of the partnership with SEAROUTES reinforces our ability to develop products even more quickly with functionalities such as deep-learning algorithms, which are essential for the control of our carbon footprint”.

Carl Lauron, BuyCo’s founding president and CEO follows – “BuyCo is a collaborative platform dedicated to exporters, importers and their partners to plan, execute and monitor their container shipping operations. Searoutes seduced us with its serious and pragmatic approach to calculating CO2 emissions. The integration of the Searoutes API now allows BuyCo’s customers to fulfill their reporting obligations by analyzing the carbon dioxide emissions of their past transports. Our customers will also soon be able to benefit from the information on estimated CO2 emissions as an additional criterion when making their booking request to a shipping company through our platform,  which no solution previously allowed”.

Searoutes’ vision: Finding the greenest route.

To achieve sustainable transport of goods, shippers need to be offered solutions with the choice to opt for cleaner and more affordable routes. The startup aims to find the optimal route in terms of CO2 emissions, from pick up to delivery. The one with the lowest carbon footprint according to the different services available, all modes combined (Sea, Air, Rail, Road), from point A to point B.

Pierre Garreau, Co-founder and CEO of Searoutes – “We want to give shippers decision power. They have objectives to achieve, in terms of reducing CO2 emissions, and European regulations are pushing them to set these objectives to reduce them. Today shippers need a tool to make good decisions and achieve these targets. A tool that allows them to choose the service that will emit the least CO2 for the same price and the same transit time. “

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