Secure Environment

Preserving Our Planet

Emissions data makes it clear that shipping helps preserve our environment. TheAmerican maritime industry has made major commitments as a whole, including pledging to meet the International Maritime Organization’s goals to cut greenhouse gas emissions by at least 50% by 2050, and to reduce the carbon intensity of international shipping by at least 40% by 2030.

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Many policymakers and other key decision-makers are surprised to learn that shipping is the most fuel-efficient way to move cargo. In fact, it has the lowest negative environmental impact of any major mode of transportation in the world today. Within the global industry, U.S.-flagged carriers adhere to higher environmental standards than many foreign competitors, acting on their conviction that achieving carbon neutrality is critically important to our planet’s future.

Emissions data makes it clear that shipping helps preserve our environment. Remarkably, maritime transportation moves more than 90% of global trade, yet it’s responsible for only 2–3% of annual CO2 emissions. That’s because ships emit half as much carbon dioxide as trains, one-fifth as much as trucks and nearly a fiftieth of what airplanes emit over similar distances. This positive environmental impact is magnified by the sheer capacity of the shipping industry—it transports goods at a scale that other modes of transportation like air cargo can’t replicate.

Yet U.S.-flagged carriers are taking their commitment to sustainability even further. Examples abound of how they have become global leaders in reducing emissions, protecting wildlife, and preserving our oceans for future generations.

American President Lines (APL), who has committed to achieving carbon neutrality by 2050, was the first company in the world to retrofit all of its ships for cold-ironing technology using portside electricity instead of burning ship fuel. APL has continued to advance toward its goal of carbon neutrality by using low-sulphur compliant fuel oil, and by leveraging the extensive accomplishments in LNG, biofuels and other forms of alternative energy being made by parent company CMA CGM

Companies such as Matson, Inc., are also adopting the use of liquified natural gas for fuel in order to reduce emissions in coastal waters. In addition, Matson recently completed a renewal of their Hawaii fleet . Equipped with the latest in green technology, the Matsonia and Lurline vessels feature a fuel-efficient hull design, environmentally safe double hull fuel tanks, fresh water ballast systems, and the first Tier 3 dual-fuel engines to be deployed in containerships serving West Coast ports.

Maersk Line, Limited has become such a sustainability pioneer that it earned a William M. Benkert Marine Environmental Protection Award from the U.S. Coast Guard in 2020. MLL has committed to a 60% reduction in CO2 emissions by 2030 compared to 2008 levels, and has already cut them by more than 40%. To get there, the company has made significant R&D investments in new fuel types such as ethanol, bio-methane and ammonia, and it aims to begin deploying commercially viable carbon-neutral vessels by 2030.

The American maritime industry has made major commitments, including pledging to meet the International Maritime Organization’s goals to cut greenhouse gas emissions by at least 50% by 2050, and to reduce the carbon intensity of international shipping by at least 40% by 2030. Additionally, instead of using antiquated disposal procedures, companies are installing the most advanced, clean facilities for dismantling and reusing old ship materials. Many carriers are also now plugging into electric power at ports to minimize pollution.

Yet while the U.S. Merchant Marine has traditionally been at the vanguard of innovation, it needs support to maintain this leadership role. Enacting policies that make U.S. shipping a national strategic priority will help ensure companies have the resources to develop more sustainable technologies in areas from fuels to propulsion to scrubbing systems. Conversely, if U.S.-flagged ships fall behind foreign carriers in this regard, they will miss out on market opportunities and could even be forced out of service if they don’t meet future environmental requirements. The American merchant marine knows it has an obligation to lead the world to a clean future—let’s help it make good on that responsibility.

Future Security

Learn how The U.S. Deep Sea Shipping Industry Supports our Future Security.