The Future of Freight: More shipping, less emissions

Maritime transport

Maritime transport is the transport of people or goods by water. Freight transport has been achieved widely by sea throughout recorded history.

More than 80 percent of global trade, by volume, floats its way from place to place. 90,000 commercial vessels—tankers, bulk dry carriers, and container ships—make the movement of goods possible, transporting more than 10 billion tons of cargo in 2015.


Environmental Impacts Of Shipping

The environmental impact of shipping includes greenhouse gas emissions, acoustic, and oil pollution. The International Maritime Organization(IMO) estimates that Carbon dioxide emissions from shipping were equal to 2.2% of the global human-made emissions in 2012 and expects them to rise 50 to 250 percent by 2050 if no action is taken.

Studies have revealed that it takes 5 million barrels of fuel per day to move commercial ships across the routes shown on this map. Added up over the course of a year, international shipping emits more than 800 million tons of carbon dioxide or its equivalent in other greenhouse gases—11 percent of the total emissions from the transportation sector.


Shipping produces 3 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. Forecasts predict they could be 50 percent to 250 percent higher in 2050. Because of huge shipping volumes, increasing shipping efficiency can have a sizable impact.

Other impacts on environment

  • Ballast Water
  • Sound Pollution
  • Oil Spills
  • Wildlife Collisions
  • Sewage
  • Bilge Water


Ways to improve efficiency

Efficiency begins with ship design and on board technology. Fuel-saving innovations include:

  • Installing electric power and propulsion systems

Electric power generation and propulsion is an essential factor in reducing carbon emissions, particularly on vessels with diverse operating profiles. This is because the more efficient electric motors and the variable speed operation of the propulsors can dramatically reduce fuel consumption. Production of electrically propelled vessels has increased dramatically since 2004. In fact, in 2012 over 160 electrically propelled vessels were built.

  • Upgrading core systems on existing vessels

Traditionally, dynamic positioning systems were fuel costly because it takes a lot of energy to keep a large vessel completely still, particularly on choppy waters. this technology can save operators up to 10% in fuel usage which over time can significantly reduce a ship’s carbon footprint.

  • Streamlining hull and propeller design

Another measure ship builders can take to reduce carbon emissions is to streamline the design of ships so they can move faster in the water without using as much fuel. Hull form optimization is one route to reduce drag and streamline vessels, made possible by advances in technology that enable equipment usually stored in the hull to be rearranged.

marine clean offshore

Other Ways:

  • Reduce non steaming time
  • Low loss hybrid energy system
  • Fuel oil emulsion technology 
  • ducktails at the rear
  • Air lubrication system

Results and conclusions

The Plausible Scenario projects that energy-efficient shipping can lead to an estimated emissions reduction of 7.9 gigatons of carbon dioxide-equivalent greenhouse gases from 2020-2050, at an additional cost of approximately US$915 billion and a net operating savings of US$424 billion. The Drawdown Scenario shows an avoidance of 9 gigatons of greenhouse gas emissions; the Optimum Scenario avoids 9.5 gigatons of emissions.




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