For maritime transport to achieve its environmental and sustainability goals, digitalization and connectivity are essential. Mobile satellite communications leader Inmarsat provides this connectivity and has embarked on a $100 million expansion to ensure it continues to meet the ever-growing demand for digital shipping services. We asked the company to discuss their commitment to sustainability.
Can you start by describing what sustainability means to Inmarsat, both broadly and in the context of the maritime industry?
At Inmarsat, we look at sustainability in two fundamental ways; our responsibility as an organization to protect the environment through sustainable operations and responsible stewardship of its resources, both on the ground and in space, and the role we can play in supporting and fostering sustainability in the industries we we serve.
Therefore, environmental leadership is at the heart of our business strategy, and we have champions at executive and board level who are committed to achieving ambitious science-based goals. Our Sustainable Development Committee aims to stimulate ideas and innovation to reduce the environmental impact of our operations. We develop employee engagement programs to ensure everyone in the company is working towards the same environmental goals and that sustainability is embedded in everything we do. For example, the electricity for our new London office will come from a renewable energy supplier.
As part of supporting sustainability in the shipping industry, through our high-speed maritime broadband service, Fleet Xpress, we make it easy to monitor performance by providing owners and operators with the bandwidth needed to collect, analyze and transfer large volumes of ship and machine performance data. . This allows them to operate their vessels more efficiently and sustainably.
Our Certified Application Providers (CAPs) use our Fleet Data API, part of the Fleet Xpress package, to help automate the data collection process and provide shipping companies with the predictive analytics capabilities to reduce fuel consumption , improve decision-making and meet local and international environmental requirements. real-time standards. Additionally, our Fleet Connect solution, which is also part of Fleet Xpress, provides CAPs with dedicated bandwidth to deliver value-added digital services that directly target efficiencies in areas such as fuel consumption, weather routing and trip planning.
Inmarsat discussed the importance of health and safety on board. Can you talk about the role technology plays in bridging the gap between the two, and how this is essential to sustainability?
Inmarsat is a strong advocate of the importance of onboard health and safety and the role technology can play in protecting life at sea. In June 2020, we released the Welfare 2.0 report, highlighting the value that data models capturing, storing and analyzing the factors contributing to the health, safety and well-being of seafarers can have in shipping. Another report commissioned by Inmarsat puts the Welfare 2.0 findings into practice. Published in August 2021, The Future of Maritime Safety draws on distress signals sent via the Inmarsat network between 2018 and 2020 to identify weak points and solutions, allocate resources and measure progress towards enhanced safety.
Onboard connectivity is crucial not only for sending distress signals, but also for allowing the crew to access online services, which Inmarsat considers crucial for the mental health and well-being of seafarers. In addition to entertaining crew members and keeping in touch with friends and family, internet access can help them resolve any physical or mental health issues with medical professionals via video consultation. Such a service is provided by Vikand, a member of Inmarsat’s CAP program, and facilitated by Inmarsat Fleet Connect bandwidth. Another Inmarsat CAP, Evitalz, provides a similar service, allowing a patient’s vital signs diagnosis to be sent to medical experts ashore, again via Fleet Connect, for further consultation.
Although maritime sustainability is generally discussed in relation to the environment, “sustainability” is a broad term which, in the context of shipping, encompasses the protection of seafarers whose hard work and expertise maintain the industry in motion. Shipowners are therefore deploying data analytics and digital applications to support not only environmental compliance but also health and safety on board.
What are some of the harms caused by environmentally unsustainable fishing, particularly illegal and unreported fishing, and how does Inmarsat’s Fleet One Vessel Monitoring System address these challenges?
Illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) fishing takes no account of sustainability or the protection of vulnerable marine life. This leads to overfishing and the disposal of large amounts of fishing gear at sea as illegal fishers try to avoid being caught. If left unchecked, IUU fishing will therefore threaten food security and lead to the destruction of marine ecosystems, which are vital to the overall health of our planet. Ideally suited for small vessels, including fishing vessels, Inmarsat’s Fleet One vessel monitoring system supports electronic catch documentation and traceability (eCDT) to combat IUU fishing.
Can you talk a bit about the importance of engaging with the entire value chain to set meaningful emission reduction targets? How did Inmarsat work with Carbon Intelligence to achieve this?
In our industry, we cannot completely eliminate emissions. Sending satellites into space and positioning them in the right orbital slot requires rockets and fuel, while ensuring that our partner terminals reach the customer relies on the global supply chain. We have therefore worked with Carbon Intelligence to quantify the emissions of our indirect activities (Scope 3), which represent 97% of our total environmental footprint. In response to these findings, we set a target of reducing our Scope 3 emissions by 90%, becoming the first satellite operator to set such an ambitious target.
We are already working towards this goal by integrating sustainability into our supplier selection process. For example, for our next Inmarsat-6 satellite launch in 2023, we have chosen a launch supplier, SpaceX, which offers reusable rockets. In addition, for the I-6 F1, launched at the end of 2021, we have chosen a satellite system whose electric orbiting platform is powered by xenon, a noble gas with zero environmental impact on space. We have chosen the same system design for the next launches of our four proprietary satellites, I-6 F2 and GX7, 8 and 9.
Finally, why does Inmarsat believe it is important for the maritime industry as a whole to prioritize sustainability, and what steps do you hope the industry will take to move in this direction? What will it take to achieve a zero-emission maritime industry?
Although far from being the worst offender, the maritime industry contributes significantly to total global greenhouse gas emissions and, like any sector, organization or individual, must play its part in safeguarding the future of the planet. Yet sustainability is more than just a moral issue; from a business perspective, shipping lines know they simply cannot afford to carry on as normal. With new regulations emerging and growing pressure from freight owners and consumers, companies that act decisively on decarbonization will move forward, while those that hesitate will be left behind. Ultimately, achieving a zero-emissions marine industry will rely on a combination of international and interdisciplinary collaboration, behavioral changes, fleet digitization and sustained investment in clean propulsion solutions.