Scary fact(oid) of the day

OK, so this sounds a little incredible to me, but it’s in The Guardian so it must be true, right 😛

Shipping by numbers

The world’s biggest container ships have 109,000 horsepower engines which weigh 2,300 tons.

Each ship expects to operate 24hrs a day for about 280 days a year

There are 90,000 ocean-going cargo ships

Shipping is responsible for 18-30% of all the world’s nitrogen oxide (NOx) pollution and 9% of the global sulphur oxide (SOx) pollution.

One large ship can generate about 5,000 tonnes of sulphur oxide (SOx) pollution in a year

70% of all ship emissions are within 400km of land.

85% of all ship pollution is in the northern hemisphere.

Shipping is responsible for 3.5% to 4% of all climate change emissions

Whoah!!! So, if countries start introducing carbon trading, will the ships be covered? Unless the oil producing nations sign up I guess that they’ll still be able to get untaxed fuel and they can always sail under the flag of a country that doesn’t care. Can anything be done about them (presuming stuff gets done about any climate change)?

ht: Treehugger

7 replies
  1. Matt Nolan
    Matt Nolan says:

    Make it the ports responsiblity via traffic in the KP – then tax ports. It doesn’t matter where you tax the emissions, as long as they are taxed …

  2. moz
    moz says:

    Or tax the goods. Shipping is likely the least cost method of delivery, so a base carbon cost assuming shipping is unlikely to overcharge anyone. Possibly more complex unless you just did a flax tax (an extra point on GST) but would avoid the WTO claiming it was a trade barrier.

    You’d want to be a little careful because ships are generally more efficient than anything else, and it would be a shame to see goods moved by road instead.

  3. Matt Nolan
    Matt Nolan says:


    “you’d want to be a little careful because ships are generally more efficient than anything else, and it would be a shame to see goods moved by road instead.”

    In theory you will be taxing per carbon unit – so if ships are more efficient then they will still be taxed less per good.

    Just because it may be more efficient doesn’t mean that the best externality tax is zero – it is about setting the private cost equal to the social cost …

  4. insider
    insider says:

    Shipping an air travel emissions are usually exempt from many of these national laws under things like Law of the Sea. eg C02 from international flights does not fall under NZ’s Kyoto obligations and marine fuel for international vessels does not have to meet domestic standards.

    Heavy marine fuel is a great low cost place to concentrate sulphur to balance refining runs where sulphur is being removed from higher fraction auto fuels. It’s cheap becuase they dont have to remove it from the crude and store and sell it, and it means they can access cheaper crudes which tend to be high in sulphur, and so can produce a higher value product.

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