Carnival Corporation is the only cruise company to sign up to an initiative co-ordinated by Forum for the Future to map out a sustainable future for international shipping.

Seventeen global companies, including freight lines and marine insurers, are backing the Sustainable Shipping Initiative (SSI) designed to lay out a ‘vision for 2040’ for the industry.

The SSI is to address three principal challenges identified as facing the industry: rising oil prices, structural shifts in world trade and growing scrutiny of the industry’s social and environmental performance.

Five key objectives identified include diversifying the international shipping industry’s energy mix. They aim for greater efficiency, “dramatic reductions” in greenhouse gases and to ensure responsible governance of the oceans.

The Initiative’s 17 members claim to have a combined market value of half a trillion dollars.

Jonathon Porritt, founder director of non-profit organisation Forum for the Future, described shipping as having reached a “crossroads”.

He said: “After years of focusing on a commodity-focused ‘boom and bust’ business model, leaders in the industry have aligned to ask more of themselves – emphasising the urgent need to take the lead in reshaping the entire industry ahead of regulation.”

David Dingle, chief executive of Carnival’s British arm Carnival UK, said: “From Carnival’s perspective the Sustainable Shipping Initiative should support an expanding, well-rewarded and supported workforce and network of suppliers and to enhance significantly the economies and services of the communities its ships visit.

“From an industry perspective it will ensure that future growth across the shipping industry is maintained economically, socially and environmentally.

“It is a tough challenge but one to which we are fully committed.”