Shipping Emissions: Overview

If global shipping were a country, it would be the sixth largest producer of greenhouse gas emissions.

Only the United States, China, Russia, India and Japan emit more carbon dioxide than the world’s shipping fleet. Nevertheless, carbon dioxide emissions from ocean-going vessels are currently unregulated.

Like all modes of transportation that use fossil fuels, ships produce carbon dioxide emissions that significantly contribute to global climate change and ocean acidification. Besides carbon dioxide, ships also release a handful of other pollutants that contribute to the problem.

Over 90 percent of world trade is carried across the world’s oceans by some 90,000 marine vessels, and as a result, the shipping industry is responsible for a significant proportion of the global climate change problem. More than three percent of global carbon dioxide emissions can be attributed to ocean-going ships.

The International Chamber of Shipping recognizes that reductions of 15 to 20 percent of the carbon dioxide emitted per tonne of cargo transported are possible from 2007 to 2020, primarily through use of operational and technical measures. These measures can have an almost immediate effect on emission reductions, and a reduction of 33 percent below the business-as-usual baseline could be attained at no cost.

Oceana is working to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the shipping industry by petitioning the government to regulate shipping emissions and by promoting ways to reduce emissions through operational and technical measures.

For more information on curtailing shipping emissions, read Oceana’s report on Shipping Solutions