Mirja Nibbe, Managing Director of CMA CGM Germany,
talks about sustainability strategy and activities of the organisation.
How important are sustainability issues in your company?
Sustainability plays a crucial role at CMA CGM, and the Group has set a Net Zero-Carbon target for 2050. The Group is committed to taking concrete actions and using the best available solutions, such as liquefied natural gas (LNG), biomethane and biofuel, to achieve this goal. The CMA CGM Group already has a fleet of 32 "biomethane and e-methane ready" vessels in service, a number that will be increased to 77 vessels by the end of 2026. The Group is also diversifying its energy mix and has decided to order CMA CGM 24 dual-fuel container ships compatible with low-carbon methanol.
On this path, CMA CGM also established in 2022 a 1.5 billion Special Fund for Energies: PULSE. Namely PULSE has 4 lines of focus: 1. Support large-scale production of sustainable fuels 2. Accelerate the decarbonization of port terminals, warehouses and truck fleets 3. Trial and launch projects at the cutting edge of innovation 4. Develop energy saving and alternative mobility solutions for employees and offices.
Sustainability is often reduced to environmental issues: What importance do economic and social aspects have in your sustainability strategy?
CMA CGM's sustainability strategy is built on 3 pillars and 12 priorities, in line with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. The 3 pillars are "Acting for People", "Acting for Planet" and "Acting for Fair Trade". Acting for People includes, for example, ensuring a diverse and inclusive work environment and supporting local communities. Acting for Planet, as we understand it, includes not only the fight against climate change but also programs and initiatives to preserve biodiversity. And according to Acting for Fair Trade, the focus is on acting ethically and with integrity - but also on trading behaviour - as well as supporting our customers in their own contribution to decarbonization. In this respect, all aspects are holistically covered here.
What is the most important sustainability issue in your company in the long term?
We have publicly committed to achieving Net Zero Carbon across all activities by 2050 -which is part of our “Acting for Planet” set of measures. Therefore, we identified 3 decarbonization levers: the modernization of assets, the optimization of operations and diversification of the energy mix with low/zero emission solutions. But it would certainly be wrong to single out one issue as the most important, because only all 12 priorities combined and working together can contribute to sustainability as effectively as possible.
To name these specifically, under “Acting for People” we have defined the following priorities: (1) protecting our staff members, (2) supporting diversity and inclusion, (3) promoting education and training, (4) supporting local communities, (5) safeguarding human rights, under “Acting for Planet”: (6) accelerating the energy transition, (7) improving air quality, (8) preserving biodiversity, (9) promoting a circular economy and under “Acting for Fair Trade”: (10) acting ethically and with integrity, (11) providing our customers with innovative services, (12) ensuring a sustainable supply chain.
Independent of company-specific topics: Where do you see the greatest social challenges to implementing sustainable business practices?
In my view the biggest social challenge is behavioural change. That is why we systematically address our employees with various internal programs and initiatives which all require personal engagement. For example we have established “My Daily Impact”, a special platform with daily challenges, such as avoiding plastic, save energy, eat local food, to name only a few. Also, our Climate School is an integral part of our CMA CGM Academy with almost 20 different modules on sustainability topics and every employee has to complete at least one of these modules per year.
Which innovation currently fascinates you the most?
Regarding shipping and logistics’ energy transition, the fascinating aspect is that we need to explore and develop multiple complementary energies and solutions to tackle this challenge. Through PULSE, our Group helps driving forward the emergence of industrial-scale production facilities for these alternative fuels to secure volumes in line with the Group’s needs, in partnership with major industrial groups investment funds and promising startups.
Personally, I think Hydrogen for trucks, but also ships, is certainly exciting in terms of new, sustainable propulsion technology of the mobility for the future. Although often belittled, I find wind power for smaller cargo ships very interesting and until today (still) an underestimated technology. In this regard, PULSE supports the Neoline project, the first wind-powered ro-ro vessel.
In the larger context of innovation, I am eagerly following the development of quantum computing and AI, which will greatly change the world in dimensions that have not yet been fully realized. Here, sustainability in dealing with huge data volumes will certainly also become a challenge we will have to tackle.
Sustainability economics requires change. What is the importance of sustainability communication in this context?
Communication is crucial to the whole change process sustainability economics usually imply. At CMA CGM, sustainability is a very high internal priority. Being such a global organization with 155,000 staff members we continuously strive to make a big impact ourselves: Every country has a proper CSR referent to encourage local concrete actions in addition to the Group’s global initiatives. Sustainability is a core element of CMA CGM’s DNA – as such communication is continuous via a range of channels: C-Box Team Trainings, campaigns, like “My Daily Impact”, Climate School modules as part of our CMA CGM Academy and further challenges across the year. We currently focus on internal communications, because we want to achieve that every member of the company really understands and internalizes the importance of the topic. Besides this, of course, we communicate about our local activities, such as beach clean-ups or tree plantings, on our social media channels in order to inspire others.
To drive sustainability forward and to stay up to date it is furthermore important to stay in constant exchange with other global players and our customers; that is why we participate in dedicated sustainability congresses and conferences or organize customer events covering the topic.
Is this a relevant topic for your corporate communication? And how can joint strategies be developed through cooperation?
Yes, it is a very relevant topic as it is a central topic to the Group’s strategy.
Regarding joint strategies, we just announced that CMA CGM and Maersk are joining forces to accelerate the decarbonization of the shipping industry and will work together to develop the use of alternative greener fuels for container vessel propulsion. Furthermore, Rodolphe Saadé, Chairman and CEO of the CMA CGM Group, initiated the Energy Coalition for Transport & Logistics, which was launched in 2019 and now counts 18 members. This coalition aims at accelerating the development of future energies and technologies to sustain new green mobility models and reduce the impact of transport and logistics on climate change with joint forces. Among the projects were biofuels (propose and test the first bio-crude oil dedicated to maritime needs to increase the use of Biofuel along the supply chain) and LNG (draw a pathway for bioLNG toward carbon neutrality), to list only a few.
What expectations do you have of the congress in this context?
I am looking forward to learning and getting inspired about new sustainable developments in the industry and to exciting exchanges with other representatives of the industry.