According to a publication by the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU), around 90 percent of global trade is carried out by sea. Experts from the Federal Environment Agency (UBA) assume that shipping traffic will increase by a further two to three percent annually.
According to a study by the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) , the cargo ships on the ocean generated a total of 932 million tons of CO2 in 2015 . This corresponds to about 2.6 percent of global emissions and thus exceeds the total CO2 emissions from Germany . An analysis by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) even came to the conclusion that CO2 emissions from shipping will increase by 50 to 250 percent by 2050.
Acquisition of the current status:
To develop the concept, the researchers of the Towards Net-Zero project, with the help of external experts and existing studies, recorded the travel routes, the existing technologies and the sustainability and costs of new fuels . The focus of the scientists was on energy sources that do not emit CO2 emissions and that will be available for use on a large scale in five to ten years. In addition, care was taken to ensure that any concept that was found was scalable and used internationally.
Subcontractor liability debate
Federal Minister of Labor Hubertus Heil then announced that the concept of subcontractor liability would be extended to the shipping industry. Even now, employers – also in the parcel industry – are responsible for ensuring that their independent contractual partners pay minimum wages to employees. In the planned draft law, service providers will in future also be responsible for paying social security contributions.
“Fair working conditions, securing high social standards and a good working environment are central factors for our member companies. Naturally, they adhere to existing legal regulations and expect this from their contractual partners, ”continues Marcus-Engelhardt. Violations of these regulations “will not be tolerated.” In addition, the BIEK and its members support everything that promotes good working conditions and are currently intensively concerned with the topic of prequalification.
The BIEK, which includes the parcel service providers Hermes, UPS, DPD and GLS among its members, criticizes the general condemnation of the industry and relies on the interim report of the customs investigation in February. “Clearly: Every violation is one too many – however, with a share of 0.2 percent, the principle of proportionality should be observed,” says Marcus-Engelhardt.
Rather, the law on subcontractor liability is “campaign campaignism”. “Companies cannot replace the important role of the supervisory authorities,” says Marcus-Engelhardt. Rather, enforcement and control of applicable rules require sovereign action by the customs authorities
Electric drives also at sea:
According to the scientists, the greatest potential lies in combustion engines powered by ammonia, electric motors with batteries and drives with fuel cells. The optimal energy source depends on the size of the ship and the route. As Eckle explains, “In the North and Baltic Sea regions, electrically operated ships are already used on short distances, which makes sense.”
Ammonia could replace the currently used heavy oil on long journeys. However, this fuel is toxic and is currently not approved for use in shipping. Liquefaction and transport capacities are currently still missing for a hydrogen drive, but tankers are to be tested in a timely manner. Eckle explains that “the scientists need shipping companies to test emission-free ships” in order to clarify the questions that are still open and to test the solutions found in pilot projects.
Shipping possible without CO2 emissions:
For this reason, scientists from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich (ETH), which belong to sus.lab , which aims to implement scientific findings on sustainability together with companies, have developed concepts that should make shipping possible without CO2 emissions. The order came from the Nord shipping company, which currently operates 55 large ships.
The scientists analyzed the North and Baltic Seas, which, according to study director Petrissa Eckle, are among the industry’s innovation drivers. In addition, the relatively small area compared to other oceans enables a practical test of the possible solutions.
Tighter working conditions due to free shipping
As deliveries continue to rise, parcel carriers’ earnings continue to fall. From 2007 to 2017, the average gross salary fell to 2478 euros, or 13 percent . The BIEK also criticizes the low esteem for many parcel carriers: “Free shipping” is an important reason for this: What costs nothing is obviously not worth anything to consumers, “says association spokeswoman Elena Marcus-Engelhardt.
However, the enormous competitive pressure also has an impact on parcel prices and complicates the work of parcel deliverers. The free return shipment and repeated free delivery attempts further aggravate the situation. “It is perfectly clear that this affects the wages and working conditions of the delivery staff,” says Maik Brandenburger, spokesman for the DPVKOM trade union. He therefore expects a trend reversal: “Sooner or later, customers will face higher prices because parcel delivery at dumping prices does not cover costs.”
However, some employers in the industry still support the low prices. This in turn has consequences for the working conditions of the couriers. “A big problem in the industry is subcontracting. It is often the case that subcontractors in turn pass the orders on to subcontractors. It can then hardly be checked here whether the minimum wage actually arrives at the employees. This is not least due to the lack of personnel in the area of financial control undeclared work (FKS), ”says Brandenburger.
Verdi chairman Frank Bsirske also criticized the industry earlier this year for similar reasons. Before that, customs had surveyed more than 12,000 parcel and courier service drivers about their working conditions in a nationwide survey.