Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Shipping emisssions recalculated

The UK Guardian ran a story last week entitled "True scale of CO2 emissions from shipping revealed: Leaked UN report says pollution three times higher than previously thought". The story is based on a report leaked from the UN to the Guardian that "calculates that annual emissions from the world's merchant fleet have already reached 1.12bn tonnes of CO, or nearly 4.5% of all global emissions of the main greenhouse gas." This number, 1.12 bn tons, is almost three times higher than previous estimates of a maximum 400 tons.

The report also mentions these points:
  • " CO₂emissions are set to rise by a further 30% by 2020."
  • " Other pollutants from shipping are rising even faster than CO₂emissions. Sulphur and soot emissions, which give rise to lung cancers, acid rain and respiratory problems are expected to rise more than 30% over the next 12 years."
  • " A recent peer-reviewed study of shipping emissions found world shipping led directly to 60,000 deaths a year."
Does this mean that ocean transport is not the preferred shipping method with regards to carbon footprint? Doubtful, but it may take some pressure off of the concerns around air shipments which the reports.

The best metric is still around volume or weight measurement. How much cargo is shipped that generates 1.12 billion tons of carbon for ships? How much cargo is shipped that generates the 325 million tons of airborn-shipping carbon?

Source: John Vidal, "True scale of CO2 emissions from shipping revealed, The Guardian, Wednesday February 13 2008, viewed online Feb. 20, 2008,

1 comment:

Fine said...

Question: For ocean shipping, is the CO2 impact more a function of volume shipped (i.e. number of containers regardless of weight) or of weight shipped (e.g. number of tons regardless of volume)?