CO2 from Shipping Twice as Much as Airlines


The Guardian reports:

Carbon dioxide emissions from shipping are double those of aviation and increasing at an alarming rate which will have a serious impact on global warming, according to research by the industry and European academics.

Separate studies suggest that maritime carbon dioxide emissions are not only higher than previously thought, but could rise by as much as 75% in the next 15 to 20 years if world trade continues to grow and no action is taken. The figures from the oil giant BP, which owns 50 tankers, and researchers at the Institute for Physics and Atmosphere in Wessling, Germany reveal that annual emissions from shipping range between 600 and 800m tonnes of carbon dioxide, or up to 5% of the global total.

Carbon dioxide emissions from ships do not come under the Kyoto
agreement or any proposed European legislation and few studies have
been made of them, even though they are set to increase.

  • Shipping by water is still orders of magnitude more energy efficient than air freight and much more efficient per pound than even trucking and rail. But energy efficient and carbon output are two different animals. Rail can be powered by electricity which can be produced from renewable and non-carbon based sources. But the bunker fuel used in most container ships is very dirty and could be much cleaner.

  • P

    It looks like you could team up the protectionists and the enviromentalists to mandate that the cargo ships meet a certain threshold of pollution control.

  • badmariner

    Yes I am afraid I must agree with your other posters. The shipping industry is the cleanest form of industrial transport there is. This PR story originated in the UK from a man who makes CO2 abatement technology, which is kind of sickening really. For real maritime insight, why not try ?

  • offtopic

    Not to be contrarian, but what exactly does this have to do with the NYC Streets Renaissance…

  • offtopic not

    Seems quite on topic–we consume so many imported goods, things that used to be made here in NYC. Yes, we’ve always been a port city, but our urban planning now takes for granted that we’ll import virtually ALL goods, and that nothing will be made here. Seems shortsighted.

  • It is not off topic because we’re moving to increase waterborne transport as an alternative mode and need to understand that it is not non-polluting either.

  • Nicolo Macchiavelli

    I’m not sure who is the “we” in Hilary’s comment or who the “our” is in the prior post. As to number 5, we are not planning for that trade expansion, as a matter of fact EDC is closing down port and stevedoring facilities on the Brooklyn waterfront in the face of a tsunami of shipping. Which dovetails with number 6 prevailing misunderstanding, we are actually forcing many goods onto trucks around NYS. Heavy building materials, aggregates, consumer goods, municipal waste and containers are all being chased off the water onto trucks.

    Ask American Stevedoring and Ferrara Bros. Concrete.

  • Point taken. I was thinking only of people, not freight. And garbage.

  • Hey gang — the Guardian story is wrong. CO2 from shipping is no more than from aviation, and likely a bit less. See my Gristmill piece:

  • Great piece Komanoff!

  • Rob

    I know most people here aren’t pro-nuclear but I think it needs to be considered for these massive massive cargo ships.

  • badmariner

    Re Post No 9 – see Post No 3… There are big pollution/environment issues to be sorted in the transport industry but this isn’t one of them.

  • Shipping by sea or Shipping by air ? By road or Train ?
    Have a look to CShip to know emission gramme of CO2 per tonne km of goods.


Support Builds for Carbon Taxes Over “Cap and Trade”

The Independent reports that European CO2 emissions are rising not falling, casting doubt on the EU’s touted Emissions Trading Scheme: Europe’s big polluters pumped more climate-changing gases into the atmosphere in 2006 than during the previous year, according to figures that show the EU’s carbon trading system failing to deliver curbs. Critics said the data […]

Can We Bike Our Way to a Stable Climate?

Crossposted from the Frontier Group.  Earlier this week, I had the chance to talk about the role of bicycling in addressing climate change at the National Bike Summit in Washington, D.C., sponsored by the League of American Bicyclists. The conversation was framed around the Paris climate agreement – the pact signed by 195 nations in December […]

Gridlock Sam: Avert Climate Catastrophe, Ride a Vespa®

  While Parisians are starting to complain that "an invasion of noisy scooters and motorcycles and a rise in accidents involving pedestrian and motorcyclists" is one of the "unintended consequences" of Mayor Bertrand Delanoe’s traffic reduction policies, "Gridlock" Sam Schwartz’s consulting firm just issued a report claiming that New York City could better meet its […]