Leaked UN report says pollution three times higher than previously thought
John Vidal, environment editor
The Guardian, Wednesday February 13 2008
The true scale of climate change emissions from shipping is almost three times higher than previously believed, according to a leaked UN study seen by the Guardian.
It calculates that annual emissions from the world's merchant fleet have already reached 1.12bn tonnes of CO², or nearly 4.5% of all global emissions of the main greenhouse gas.
The report suggests that shipping emissions - which are not taken into account by European targets for cutting global warming - will become one of the largest single sources of manmade CO² after cars, housing, agriculture and industry. By comparison, the aviation industry, which has been under heavy pressure to clean up, is responsible for about 650m tonnes of CO² emissions a year, just over half that from shipping.
Until now, the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has estimated shipping emissions to be a maximum 400m tonnes, but the new draft report by a group of international scientists is a more sophisticated measure, using data collected from the oil and shipping industries for the International Maritime Organisation, the UN agency tasked with monitoring pollution from ships. It not only shows emissions are much worse than feared, but warns CO² emissions are set to rise by a further 30% by 2020.
Contacted about the contents of the report, Dr Rajendra Pachauri, chair of the IPCC, said: "This is a clear failure of the system. The shipping industry has so far escaped publicity. It has been left out of the climate change discussion. I hope [shipping emissions] will be included in the next UN agreement. It would be a cop-out if it was not. It tells me that we have been ineffective at tackling climate change so far."
The entire article here: Guardian UK
This news should come as no surprise, since our "globalized" economy was based on cheap fossil fuels that made transportation costs very small. Some of the response to the need to cut emissions as well as the rising cost of oil will no doubt be to try and make ships more efficient, but what we really need to do is to re-localize the way we live with less travel and by buying our foods and other goods locally. I can't help but wonder how much to the shipping in the world is to ship oil, coal, cars, and other commodities which themselves will add to CO2 emissions when put into use. Vicious cycle.