Ocean freight

Ocean freight

< Back to Articles | Topics: Trends | Contributors: Su Baysal | This is a guest post from Alliance World Transport
(Member since 1993) | Published: November 7, 2023

This is a guest post from Alliance World Transport
(Member since 1993)

Comparing the environmental effects of various freight transportation methods is essential in the pursuit of sustainable transportation. While fulfilling international emissions targets can be difficult for maritime freight, it is still a better option than air, rail, and road transportation. This article examines how ocean shipping performs better than other forms of transportation when it comes to carbon emissions, emphasizing its potential as a more environmentally friendly shipping option.

Ocean freight vs. road transport

For short-distance delivery, road transportation is frequently considered a practical option. It does, however, contribute significantly to carbon emissions, especially for long-distance. The International Transport Forum estimates that compared to container ships, vehicles generate about 3.5 times more CO2 per ton-kilometer. Ships with increased carrying capacities can transport more cargo for each unit of fuel used, which results in much fewer emissions per volume of cargo. Therefore, ocean freight can be an effective tool to cut both distance and fuel.

Ocean freight vs. rail transport

Due to its reduced emissions as compared to road transportation, rail transit is frequently regarded as a more environmentally friendly method of moving freight. But when rail is compared with ocean transport, the benefits of ocean shipping become clear. The International Association of Ports and Harbors estimates that rail transportation emits approximately 1.6 times as much CO2 per ton-kilometer as container ships do.

Ocean freight vs. air transport

Even though it is the fastest means of transportation, air travel has the biggest carbon footprint. The International Civil Aviation Organization estimates that compared to container ships, airplanes generate about 50 times more CO2 per ton-kilometer. Due to aviation's high energy needs and the burning of jet fuel, there is a huge discrepancy in emissions. For shipments that are not urgent, choosing ocean freight over air transport can cut carbon emissions significantly and support international environmental initiatives.

Mitigating emissions in ocean freight

Despite the advantages that ocean freight offers over other forms of transportation, the sector is aware of the need for even more emission reductions. Several actions are being taken to accomplish this: prioritizing the energy efficiency of new ship designs, and technologies like waste heat recovery systems and hybrid propulsion are fundamental to decreasing a ship’s carbon footprint. The usage of alternative fuels, such as Liquefied natural gas (LNG) and hydrogen, is also growing in popularity and has the potential to reduce emissions even further.

When comparing the carbon emissions of various means of freight transportation, ocean shipping stands out as a more environmentally beneficial option than air, rail, and road travel. While the ocean freight sector struggles to reach global emissions targets, continued initiatives to increase energy efficiency and investigate alternative fuels are laying the groundwork for a more eco-conscious future. Ocean shipping will continue to play a significant role in lowering carbon emissions in the transportation sector by utilizing its inherent advantages and embracing innovative technology.

< Back to Articles | Topics: Trends

Stay Connected

Subscribe to our weekly e-newsletter and receive important updates on Halifax Chamber events, Member benefits and advocacy news.

Travel to Costa Rica!