Hong Kong-based consortium Global Shipping Business Network (GSBN) has concluded a pilot project with Cosco Shipping to issue blockchain-based certificates for biofuel purchases.

GSBN’s Hi ECO product uses its blockchain-enabled network to establish a link between the proof of sustainability certificate issued to buyers and the green certificates issued to sellers.

This “guarantees that each green certificate corresponds to an actual purchase of biofuel”, GSBN says.

The certificate records key metrics, including the amount of CO2 emissions saved, the number of twenty-foot equivalent units transported and the quantity of biofuel used in a given period.

The scheme is designed to “enhance market confidence in GHG [greenhouse gas] reduction claims” and make sure that all claims to using biofuel can be documented transparently.

The consortium says this is the first step in its plans to “document the entire biofuel procurement process, from its source to its consumption, on the GSBN blockchain”.

“The completion of this pilot with Cosco is a positive step towards ensuring that green claims are traceable and verifiable,” says GSBN’s chief executive, Bertrand Chen.

“In doing so, we can create a virtuous cycle in which the value of green shipping can be accounted for to justify investment and further expand green shipping over time,” he says.

The certificate aids Cosco’s plans to reduce emissions through the “entire well-to-wake cycle”, adds Tang Wei, strategic customer developing and maintaining department manager at Cosco Shipping.

Tracking well-to-wake emissions means taking into account emissions from the point of fuel production all the way through to emissions from a ship’s exhaust, as opposed to tank-to-wake, which only tracks them from when the ship’s tank is filled with fuel.

The International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) life cycle assessment guidelines govern the calculation of well-to-wake emissions and were adopted in July 2023. Further development of the guidelines is due to be discussed in September this year.

Last month, the IMO agreed a “possible draft outline” of a net-zero framework, including a new global fuel standard and a global pricing mechanism for maritime GHG emissions.

The fuel standard would see marine fuel’s GHG intensity reduced through a series of phases, while the pricing mechanism would require shipping companies to pay a fee for every tonne of carbon they emit by burning fuel.

The IMO agreed revised GHG goals in July last year, targeting a 70% reduction in total emissions by 2040, with net zero to be attained “by or around” 2050.