The least CO2-intensive mode of transportation

According to the Internal Energy Agency, transportation accounts for around 25% of energy-related CO2 emissions.

Of all the main modes of transportation, shipping is by far the lowest emitter in terms of amounts of CO2 emitted per tonne of goods transported per kilometer. This is true of both ocean-going vessels and inland waterways transportation by barges.

Maritime transport emits around 1000 million tonnes of CO2 annually and is responsible for about 2.5% of global greenhouse gas emissions (3rd IMO GHG study).

Shipping emissions are predicted to increase between 50 and 250% by 2050 – depending on future economic and energy developments.

This is not compatible with the internationally agreed goal of keeping global temperature increase to below 2°C compared to pre-industrial levels, which requires worldwide emissions to be at least halved from 1990 levels by 2050.


The shipping industry recognises that it has an important role to play in this respect and the shipping community, from ship owners to designers and engine manufacturers, is actively developing more efficient, cleaner modes of propulsion.

These efforts are encouraged by the adoption of supportive policy and regulatory frameworks both at the IMO level, the EU and in many different countries. Several policy mechanisms exist to incentivise further research and the adoption of more environmentally friendly technologies in shipping, one of them being the tonnage tax regime (for more information on the tonnage tax click here). Given the international profile of shipping, all stakeholders support the adoption of rules that would apply globally, thereby sustaining a level-playing field for all companies.

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The Swiss Trading & Shipping Association is a non-profit, non-political Swiss association representing companies active in commodity trading and shipping activities, trade finance and related services.

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