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Special Edition Magazine, Fall 2019: Sustainability

Making Shipping Sustainable

The global shipping industry is increasingly recognizing its responsibility to help tackle climate change. But, while private-sector collaboration can have a powerful impact, achieving the progress that is needed requires supportive public policies.

COPENHAGEN – With 80% of global trade transported by sea, maritime shipping is the lifeblood of today’s highly integrated global economy. Yet this vital industry is under intensifying pressure from a phenomenon to which it is also a major contributor: climate change.

Maritime shipping is particularly vulnerable to adverse weather conditions. Just this year, the Panama Canal – the main nexus of trade between the Atlantic and Pacific – has suffered the worst drought in its 115-year history. Water levels were so low that some ships had to unload part of their cargo to gain enough flotation to pass through the waterway.

Similarly, last year, a five-month drought in Germany sent water levels on the Rhine, Europe’s main inland shipping route, to their lowest point in over a century. Ships carrying critical goods were unable to get through, disrupting supply chains for car manufacturing and other industries, and causing diesel prices to spike.

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