Globalization has revolutionized how business is done since the world is the focus of businesses as opposed to just one’s country. Globalization has led to increased demand for goods and services in different parts of the world. This increased demand for goods has resulted in tremendous growth for the shipping industry.
However, the reality is that international shipping has a huge impact on the environment. The goods consumed in most parts of the world are imported and most of them get in through sea freight. They not only include consumer good but also grain, timber, dry bulk cargo, smartphones, TVs, and so on. This movement of goods across the world is what has resulted in the global shipping sector being responsible for about 1 billion tons of emissions each year.
Interestingly, when the environmental impact of different freight services is taken into consideration, sea freight appears significantly more environmentally friendly and less harmful. According to a recent study, small freight ships that carry 2 tons over 5000 Km produce about 150 Kg of emissions. However, a cargo plane that bears the same load and covers the same distance produces about 6605 kg of emissions.
Still, importers don’t prefer using small ships since huge cargo vessels are the most popular option right now. Huge cargo ships consume a lot of fuel but when compared to the loads they carry, their impact on the environment is limited. A huge cargo ship carrying vehicles and other heavy equipment has less impact on the environment in comparison to other freight options carrying the same load over the same distance.
The sea freight industry is however doing a lot to lessen its impact on the environment. Today, there are several environmentally friendly ships already operating across the world. In fact, the first ever solar powered cargo vessel set sail back in 2009. However, if the huge capital investments in shipping is anything to go by, it is easy to conclude that ship owners are not looking to get rid of old ships any time soon.
The period from 2007 to 2012 witnessed a significant reduction in emissions since the recession forced shipping companies to operate their ships at lower speeds to save fuel. 24 knots was the average speed that ships used to travel at before the recession and this dropped to 16 knots later on. However, once the economy bounced back, the ships reverted back to the original speeds. As a result, experts are now speculating that emissions attributed to sea freight could rise by about 250 percent by 2050.
The good news is that shipping companies are now facing a lot of pressure to cut down on their emissions. With the current changes in the sea freight industry and the pressure to implement eco-friendly measures to reduce pollution, it won’t be long before cargo ships are no longer considered a threat to the environment any longer.
Is sea freight an environmentally shipping option? Yes it is. It is much better than air, road or rail. It still has an impact on the environment but with the changes happening in the industry, it will soon have no impact on the environment.