Why I’m Proud of Our Work With BLUE

José María Figueres, Chairman of the Rocky Mountain – Carbon War Room Alliance highlights his views on working with BLUE. When we look over the horizon searching for…

José María Figueres, Chairman of the Rocky Mountain – Carbon War Room Alliance highlights his views on working with BLUE.

When we look over the horizon searching for challenges with real global impact, two immediately stand out. One is poverty and inequality. With the resources and technology the world has today, there is no excuse for the levels of poverty and lack of opportunities that still exist in the world. The other of course, is transitioning to a low carbon economy that provides us with opportunities for increased economic growth while decoupling them from carbon emissions. This would keep our planet vibrant and full of life, enabling us to pass it on to the next generation in better shape than we received it.

Concerned with these challenges, back in 2009 Sir Richard Branson led a series of conversations amongst global entrepreneurs, searching for ways in which they could utilise their skills to cope with these issues. The result of this brainstorming was the creation of the Carbon War Room (CWR), a non-profit set up with the mission of identifying sectors of the global economy in which we could reduce carbon emissions with market mechanisms, creating jobs, investment opportunities and new business models that would couple economic growth (fighting poverty) with good environmental stewardship (lowering carbon emissions).

Sir Richard’s theory of change can be illustrated in the shipping industry. Without a doubt shipping is the most efficient mode of transporting cargo. Yet according to the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), there is within this industry a 25% to 75% latent efficiency – equating to a potential reduction of 250m to 750m tons of carbon. Moreover, according to class society DNV’s analysis, around 50% of that latent efficiency can be achieved profitably, with many technologies and innovations providing a medium term payback term even at today’s low bunker fuel prices.


At the CWR we wanted to work with the industry to achieve these efficiencies. We believed it would be good for ship owners, for the global economy and for the planet. To help the CWR understand the opportunities in shipping, we knew we needed experts in the field that could guide us in accelerating access to and understanding the industry. We therefore started working with BLUE five years ago. Over the course of time they have consistently provided is with in-depth insight, industry knowledge and strategic guidance. Their unwavering commitment to our Shipping Efficiency Operation, has led over time to our working together in other related efforts. With BLUE’s PR working to generate huge interest in our efforts, we launched www.shippingefficiency.org with our A to G energy efficiency rating of ships. Today this rating is being used by 26% of global non-container shipping.

Beyond this, BLUE’s Director Alisdair Pettigrew and CWR Senior Associate Victoria Stulgis have worked hand in hand to provide us with first-rate consultancy work in the field. They have been our eyes and ears in the sector, managing stakeholder relations and generally going the extra mile – both literally and figuratively – to support our mission.

Having recently formalized an Alliance between Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) and CWR, together with BLUE we are now taking our Shipping Operation to new endeavours. Working to provide viable ship-retrofit financing, and with ports to provide incentives for more efficient vessels, we continue to raise the bar. The passion, ability and determination of our partners at BLUE, have been a good match for the wholehearted belief, talent and drive of our colleagues within the CWR. Nothing like true team-work when it comes to implementing out of the box solutions to global challenges!

José María Figueres is Chairman of the Rocky Mountain Institute – Carbon War Room Alliance. He was elected president of Costa Rica in 1994 as the nation’s youngest president in modern times. In 2000, he joined the World Economic Forum in Switzerland and become its first CEO in 2003. In 2009 he joined the recently created Carbon War Room, an independent non-profit organisation focused on the global transition to a low carbon economy. He served first as its Chair and as of 2012 as its President (Chief Executive).

Photograph: Whitney Kidder