The maritime sector - ecologically sustainable?

Research suggests that the maritime sector compared to other sorts of transports are ecologically sustainable in terms of CO2 (carbon dioxide) emissions. However, in terms of NOX (nitrogen oxides), SOX (sulfur oxides) and particles, the maritime sector has to reduce its emissions by using alternative energies and improving abatement technology in order to become the most ecologically sustainable means of transport.

Kent Salo, Chalmers University of Technology.

Kent Salo is Senior Lecturer at Chalmers University of Technology:
- In order to reduce emissions within the shipping sector legislation and monitoring systems must be improved, he says.

Kent Salo has compared the maritime sectors environmental impact to other modes of transportation such as road and rails by comparing its emissions of CO2, NOx, SOx and particles. He found that in terms of CO2, shipping is the most sustainable way of transporting.
-  CO2 can be used as a way of measuring energy efficiency. CO2 is a climate gas and has a negative effect on the climate as well as an acidifying effect on the oceans. The shipping industry´s CO2 emissions is only 3 % of the world's total greenhouse gas (GHG) compared to other ways of transporting that accounts for close to 30-40 %, said Kent Salo.

However, in comparison to other emissions the maritime sector has the potential to improve even more and become more ecologically sustainable.
- SOX and NOX as well as particles emissions have not been reduced within the shipping industry compared to other modes of transport. This can mainly be explained by mostly unchanged regulations in the maritime sector at the same time as other sectors have had stricter regulations, said Kent Salo. 

Despite the overall situation within the shipping industry concerning NOX and SOX, Kent Salo presented several good examples of improvements within the sector.
- Maersk´s Switzer Eco-Tug, is one good example, another one is Viking Grace which uses LNG. Wallenius Marine Zero Vision project with ballast water system and Stena Germanica is also all very good cases within the shipping industry.
- Interesting to note within the context of sustainability, is that a study made by Harvard shows that companies with a strong sustainability profile have improved business development – to invest in sustainability can therefore be profitable, said Kent Salo.