A case for incorporating Environmental Social & Governance (ESG) into spill response

23 May 2024

A case for incorporating Environmental Social & Governance (ESG) into spill response

Amy Jewell

Paper presented at International Oil Spill Conference (IOSC), Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, New Orleans, Louisiana New Orleans 13-16 May 2024 

Over recent years the shipping industry has begun to discuss issues relating to sustainability, often within the framework of Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG). In the context of ship-source pollution response, there is debate over how ESG can be practically incorporated into this emergency response sector, and concerns that it’s inclusion may lead to increased bureaucracy and higher workloads at moments when time is already at a premium. This paper therefore examines the feasibility and usefulness of monitoring sustainability during maritime pollution response, and provides practical recommendations on how ESG considerations can be tailored to the spill response sector.

The aim of this paper is to demonstrate that ESG considerations are often already engrained within the activities of the spill response community, but highlights that work is required to ensure this effort is correctly recorded and communicated. To this end, care should be taken to ensure data collection is consistent and standardised across incidents to allow meaningful comparisons. Ideally, data should also be collected centrally on behalf of multiple stakeholders to ensure all aspects are captured, there is no bias, and to reduce the potential perception of ‘greenwashing’ or ‘reputation management’. Instead of relying on global sustainability reporting frameworks, sector-specific tools could facilitate recording and mitigation of ESG impacts in a manner relevant to spill response operations. The outputs could then be fed into wider reporting frameworks.

This paper presents two practical tools, developed by ITOPF, that can help structure and refine ESG risk assessments in a timely manner to enable more holistic decision-making during spill response. The first, a greenhouse gas (GHG) calculator, facilitates quantification of emissions released during spill response operations. The second tool (currently under development) is a web app-based ESG scoping tool which aims to identify and categorise ESG impacts related to an incident and its surrounding operations.

Categories: Environmental effects, Economic effects, Planning & operations, Papers