MMMCZCS LCA Methodology for Calculating the GHG Intensity of Maritime Fuels

Published — December 14, 2023

To support effective decarbonization, the maritime industry needs a standardized approach to assessing the climate impact of different fuels. To help address this need, the Mærsk Mc-Kinney Møller Center for Zero Carbon Shipping (MMMCZCS) is introducing our new Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) methodology in a package of two publications.

Why the industry needs a standardized approach to life cycle assessment (LCA)

Throughout the life cycle of their production and use, different fuels generate emissions of greenhouse gases that drive climate change. The ability to select the fuels that will effectively lower the shipping industry's greenhouse gas emissions is essential to reaching the International Maritime Organization's (IMO) net-zero ambitions.

However, different fuel regulations and regional policies use different methods to calculate the greenhouse gas emissions generated by fuels across their well-to-wake life cycle. This inconsistency can lead to several negative consequences, including:

  • Confusion and lack of understanding of the climate impact of current and emerging maritime fuels
  • Hindering crucial international collaboration to reduce greenhouse gas emissions
  • Potentially creating misguided policy decisions and market distortions

The IMO has responded to the pressing need for standardization by creating a set of guidelines on life cycle greenhouse gas intensity of marine fuels (LCA Guidelines).

How we are contributing to solutions

To support the IMO's approach and accelerate action, we have developed an independent standardized LCA methodology for calculating the greenhouse gas intensity of maritime fuels. The methodology is structured around five key life cycle stages that consider the specificity of maritime fuel pathways, including feedstocks, co-products, and the carbon capture and storage chain.

The five life cycle stages included in the MMMCZCS LCA methodology.

Building on established LCA standards from respected bodies such as the IPCC and the ISO, the MMMCZCS methodology can be applied to assess the well-to-wake greenhouse gas emissions of different marine fuels including biofuels, e-fuels, and blue fuels.

Who can use the MMMCZCS LCA methodology?

The methodology can be used by both policymakers and industry stakeholders such as ship owners, technology providers, and fuel producers.

The methodology will help these users to:

  • document the climate performance of maritime fuels
  • identify the most important sources of greenhouse gas emissions and opportunities to mitigate them
  • inform regulatory decisions
  • and more
How the MMMCZCS LCA methodology supports stakeholders across the shipping industry to advance decarbonization (GHG=greenhouse gas, CCS=carbon capture and storage).

Where can I find more information?

The MMMCZCS LCA methodology is presented in two complementary publications. The policy brief, aimed at policymakers, gives an overview of the methodology's guiding principles and high-level insight into how emissions and credits are calculated at the different stages of the maritime fuel life cycle. The technical document, aimed at LCA practitioners, provides detailed technical and practical guidance for those who would like to directly apply the methodology to LCA analysis.

Both documents are available for download below.

Through the publication of the MMMCZCS LCA methodology, we aim to support effective and informed decision-making, collaboration, and regulatory and business action to drive decarbonization of the shipping industry.

Note: The version of the technical document originally published on 14 December 2023 contained some typographical errors in the equation for calculating total life cycle GWP (Equation 7, page 17). A note was added to this webpage on 20 December informing readers of this error and directing them to find the correct equation on page 13 of the policy brief. A corrected version of the technical document is now available for download as of 3 January 2024. We apologize for the original error and invite readers who downloaded the original technical document to access the corrected version.