Q&A with Elyse Lawson, Project Manager at the Global Maritime Forum

In a nutshell, what are the Poseidon Principles for Marine Insurance and what is their objective?

The Poseidon Principles for Marine Insurance are first and foremost about transparency and supporting insurers and the shipping industry in making evidence-based decisions for the green transition. By using the existing IMO regulation for the Data Collection System, the Principles use real emissions data to benchmark hull and machinery portfolios against the decarbonization trajectories without re-inventing the wheel or asking more from shipowners.

The initiative is extremely lucky to have the foundation of the IMO DCS and the work already done by the Poseidon Principles for Financial Institutions to bring together the stakeholders across the marine insurance ecosystem. With this climate alignment framework, Signatories and Affiliate members become active stewards in looking at where the industry stands today by opening the “black box” of real emissions data and can use that information to support and incentivize the transition to a low or no carbon economy.


What is the biggest challenge faced by the Poseidon Principles for Marine Insurance?

As a group, the biggest challenge and opportunity right now is settling ourselves as a newly established association – we have a lot of practical steps following our Founding Meeting that took place in Copenhagen at the end of April, and a lot of learning from each other on running through the data collection exercise for the first time this year. There is also significant engagement and knowledge-sharing taking place to share the Poseidon Principles for Marine Insurance with clients and with other potential members to the Association.


How do the Poseidon Principles for Marine Insurance and IUMI cooperate?

The support the Principles have from IUMI is a critical part in our engaging the industry together and sharing the approach of the initiative in the relevant spaces. Not only was IUMI part of the drafting group that worked together for a year to establish the framework, as the Association’s Supporting Partner, they have also helped to arrange briefing sessions and webinars with member associations and companies on the Principles, to widen the reach of our efforts.

Our collaboration offers a space for participants in the maritime insurance ecosystem to become active contributors in the sector’s efforts to reduce global GHG emissions. I am very thankful for all of the support and look forward to the next round of activities that IUMI and the Poseidon Principles for Marine Insurance can do together!


What are the Principles’ ambitions and how are these aligned with other ESG initiatives in the maritime sector?

At present, the Principles offer two trajectories: one they share with the Financial Institutions, which is aligned with the minimum IMO ambition of 50% CO2 reduction by 2050, and the second which is 100% CO2 reduction by the same year.

Several of the founding members are also members of the Net Zero Insurance Alliance (NZIA) and have institutional net-zero commitments they need to meet. The Poseidon Principles for Marine Insurance offer the methodology to report against carbon intensity targets to meet those requirements – allowing shipping to be a leading sector on how different lines of business (even the hard to abate sectors) can report against these targets.

While the initiative does not yet provide a trajectory aligned with a well-below 1.5°C future (to use the wording of the Paris Agreement), the members have already agreed to provide such a trajectory when one in line with the latest climate science is available for use. As the Secretariat, we make sure that regular updates from the NZIA members, UN PSI (UN Principles for Sustainable Insurance), and our Advisory keep this discussion on track. We are also regularly connecting to the work done by the Poseidon Principles for Financial Institutions, as well as the Sea Cargo Charter, to make sure that all three are making progress for the industry together.

There is also such an open space for expanding the initiative, for additional collaboration, and for knowledge sharing when it comes to ESG initiatives. There are opportunities for growth and for learning from other activities – so we can make existing work more robust and ambitious, and ensure that efforts aren’t being duplicated.


If you could wave a magic wand and change one thing in the shipping industry, what would it be?

I would have the shipping industry be the model industry for inclusive green growth within our planetary boundaries – I am very glad to be able to work toward this goal every day!


If you were not in your current role what would be your ideal job?

I think I would really like to be an engineer to design sustainable cities and infrastructure – but because I won’t go back to school for another degree, maybe an urban gardener and professional dog walker would be more realistic!


What do you like doing when not working?  

I really enjoy being outside and enjoying nature, taking care of my plants, and challenging myself with new types of exercise or hobbies. A perfect day off would have yoga, fresh fruit and homemade bread, and long walks in nature.