The Contractual Pillar of Maritime Decarbonisation: A study on the challenges and potential of improving energy efficiency in shipping through contractual means
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- Master Thesis 
Climate change has grown into an increasingly important concern for the shipping industry, but the contractual infrastructure of bulk shipping has not fully evolved to reflect this. As a result, this thesis examines the challenges and potential of improving energy efficiency in shipping through contractual means. In particular, we focus on how charterparties could be adapted to both encourage and enable more efficient ship operations, while also recognising that stakeholders such as shipowners, charterers and cargo owners often have conflicting interests. Furthermore, we also examine the key challenges in revising chartering contracts both generally and specific to different efficiency-oriented contractual solutions. Properly aligning charterparties and all stakeholders’ interests with operational efficiency is important since chartering contracts serve as the underlying framework of international shipping. We combine a literature-based analysis with interviews of key stakeholders in the shipping value chain to not only synthesise previous research results, but also explore how industry experts currently perceive the promise and limits of efficiency-oriented contractual changes. Firstly, we expand the literature by examining the common barriers to revising chartering contracts. Secondly, we review the current status of just-in-time arrivals, particularly when requiring contractual changes, and analyse how policy interventions such as carbon pricing and the upcoming CII regime could also contribute to tackling operational inefficiencies through contractual means. Finally, we evaluate more recent efficiency-linked contractual innovations and assess the challenges they are facing or might face in the future. Our findings suggest that policy interventions are necessary to incentivise more efficient ship operations, but their effectiveness depends heavily on stakeholders’ willingness to adapt contractual structures and fixture behaviour accordingly. As the status quo is maintained by stakeholders’ vested interests, external stimuli are generally required to motivate widespread contractual changes. Furthermore, although charterers and cargo owners play a crucial role for revising charterparties, they have varying responsiveness to price signals and interest in proactively reducing their shipping emissions, which creates some difficulties for improving energy efficiency through contractual means.