Shipping group attempts to quell fears on carbon

28 February 2008
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28 February 2008 | Jake Kanter

Sea freight associations have urged buyers to keep shipping after concerns were raised over the industry's carbon emissions.

The Guardian recently published findings of a "leaked UN study" that calculated CO2 emissions from the world's merchant fleet had reached 1.2 billion tonnes and represented 4.5 per cent of all global greenhouse gases.

The UK Chamber of Shipping said the report had failed to take into account that 90 per cent of world trade is conducted through shipping.

Mark Brownrigg, director general of the chamber, said: "Perhaps we should park all the ships and send the trade by air? That would be a catastrophe for the environment as well as a physical impossibility.

"Air freight produces 100 times as much CO2 per tonne kilometre. Such a move would quadruple total man-made CO2 emissions."

Intertanko, the membership organisation for tanker operators, also defended the industry. It argued that shipping was highly efficient and that one litre of fuel on a modern large crude carrier moved one tonne of cargo over 2,800 kilometres.

"The average carbon footprint of each of the world's oil tankers is less than one tenth of that of a heavy truck and less than one hundredth of that of an aircraft," the group argued.

According to the report in The Guardian, the EU failed to include shipping in its national estimates for CO2 emissions and has consistently played down its impact on the environment.

A spokesman for the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said that although shipping was not covered by international targets, "the government is investigating improved emissions" and planned to look into "better technology and operations".


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