The Blue Green Blog

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As consumers, most of the products we use have been transported as cargo shipping, which is widely known to be detrimental to the environment. To be precise, ships transporting cargo facilitate over 80% of global trade, burning fossil fuels as they go. The resulting fuel emissions are responsible for large amounts of air and marine pollution, including carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide. In addition to these emissions, cargo ships often cause direct harm to marine life; for instance, ship strikes are one of the leading causes of death of whales.

Despite these negative effects, cargo shipping remains one of the most efficient and environmentally-conscious methods of transporting products, when compared to other transport methods such as trucks and airplanes, which produce greater emissions. However, the backlash towards cargo shipping persists, leading shipping companies to use new techniques like slow steaming (travelling at lower speeds), to burn less fuel and reduce pollution, switching to cleaner fuels or installing scrubbers. A more long-term solution would be wholesale decarbonization of the shipping industry, but this will take time to implement.

Until ground-breaking changes are made, cargo shipping will continue to pollute the air and marine environments. For now, the best way for individuals to contribute to decreasing shipping-derived emissions is to shop local instead of choosing to buy products that are transported overseas.