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Your climate change goals may have a maritime shipping problem


The international cargo and container shipping industry plays a central role in global supply chains, but until recently has made few inroads toward decarbonization. That needs to change if the world is going to achieve net zero emissions by 2050.

Maritime shipping is one of the few sectors left out of the language of the Paris Agreement on climate change. The industry currently accounts for a relatively small share of global CO2 emissions — between 2% and 3% according to S&P Global Platts Analytics — but some scientists have projected that maritime shipping could account for 17% of total annual CO2 emissions by 2050.

Shipping already plays a massive role in the global economy. The public got a stark reminder of that fact when the coronavirus pandemic upended supply chains, and again in March 2021 when a massive container ship blocked the Suez Canal for nearly a week. Seaborne ships on average carry more than 80% of global trade by volume.

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