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The Growth of Maritime Trade

The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) forecasts that after declining by 0.4% in 2018, the volume of global seaborne trade will increase by 2.4% in 2023.

Although this is lower than the long-term growth rate of about 7% over the previous three decades, containerized trade is predicted to climb by 1.2% in 2023 and expand by over 3% between 2024 and 2028. It decreased by 3.7% in 2022.

But just like the previous year's study, the agency's most recent Review of Maritime Transport continues to emphasize decarbonization, despite an increase in ship emissions in 2022.

Except for the country of Panama, the top 10 emitters by flag of registration had increased their emissions of carbon dioxide from ships between 2012 and 2022.

In addition, excluding Germany, the top 10 nations when classified according to economies of ownership, emissions were comparably higher in 2022 than in 2012.

The International Maritime Organization (IMO) is implementing several initiatives to lower greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, the most important of which is the switch to cleaner fuels, but the research claims that achieving these targets will still be difficult.

The IMO released its updated GHG targets in July, with net zero expected to be reached "by or around" 2050.

By 2050, decarbonizing ships could cost between US$8 billion and US$28 billion more year, and building the infrastructure for completely carbon-neutral fuels is calculated to be between US$28 billion and US$90 billion more annually, according to UNCTAD.

Contributor: Jordan Peterman


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