Research Output
An international dimension: shipping.
  Purpose – The shipping industry is generally recognised as having better fuel efficiency than other transport modes. In many regions of the world, therefore, policy has promoted shipping as the preferred freight transport mode of choice. In recent years, however, environmental problems associated with shipping have emerged. Several influential analyses have revealed the impact of shipping on air quality, particularly in the form of emissions of sulphur, nitrogen oxides and particulate matter, all of which have adverse consequences for human health.

Methodology/approach – An extensive environmental profile of shipping is provided, focusing specifically on the atmospheric pollution that is directly attributable to shipping operations.

Findings – It is important, however, to place the environmental profile of the shipping industry into the context of exactly how much transport work it does. This makes it clear that where shipping is a viable modal alternative then, in relative terms and most contexts, it still retains significant environmental advantages over other modes. The industry and its regulators have been slow, however, to improve its environmental profile and maintain its inherent advantage. Technical and operational measures which the industry may implement unilaterally are analysed, but these are deemed insufficient to stem the adverse tide of environmental concerns. Regulation is a necessity. Recently implemented regulatory measures are analysed, together with possible scenarios for the future regulation of greenhouse gas emissions. The IMO approach of global regulation is supported in preference to regionally based regulatory policies. There is also a danger that regulatory intervention may distort mode choice contexts.

Originality/value – The provision of an extensive environmental profile of shipping and an examination of this profile in relation to the importance of this transport mode to the global economy.

  • Date:

    17 July 2012

  • Publication Status:


  • Publisher

    Emerald Publishing

  • DOI:


  • Cross Ref:


  • Library of Congress:

    HE Transportation and Communications

  • Dewey Decimal Classification:

    387 Water, air & space transportation


Cullinane, K. (2012). An international dimension: shipping. In L. Chapman, & T. J. Ryley (Eds.), Transport and Climate Change, 65-104. Emerald Publishing.



Freight transportation ; shipping ; environment and industry ; pollution ; sustainability

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