There are a lot of cargo ships off the coast of the United States, and many other countries, As a result, that port congestion is increasing pollution. And we are not talking about a few ships either. It’s a lot.
On Monday, November 29th, there were 168 cargo ships off the coast of California. That number is continuing to increase as we get further into the holiday season. And due to the ongoing pandemic, more shoppers are ordering online.
As you might expect, the biggest retailers in the world are having the biggest impact.
Walmart, Target, And Amazon Are the Biggest Offenders
To no surprise of anyone, the biggest retailers are the biggest polluters. And the new Ship It Zero report has identified their emission totals.
Walmart is the largest retailer in the world, and over the last two years from just shipping, they’ve emitted 11.5 million metric tons of carbon dioxide. Meanwhile, over the same period, Target and Amazon were responsible for 6.4 and 1.4 million metric tons of carbon respectively.
In the case of all three of these retailers, emissions are rising. Yet, there was some good news.
IKEA was responsible for 1.3 million metric tons but overall has been following its commitment to go carbon positive by 2030. Between 2018 and 2019, shipping emissions decreased by 16%. And then another 8.5% the next year!
And they have even been proactive in trying to reduce cargo ship clutter. They’ve recently started using rail to transport goods between Europe and China.
While it’s still emitting a lot, it is moving in the right direction.
How Can Shipping Emissions Be Reduced
You may be wondering how these companies can even reduce emissions while demand is so high. It’s actually not that complicated.
One of the main ways emissions can be reduced is by changing the fuel source. And hydrogen energy has the potential to be the saving grace of the industry. There is also the option of charging batteries to power the ship.
However, a much simpler way is to reduce the speed of the ships. Did you know if a cargo ship reduced its speed by 10% it would reduce its emissions by 27%? It might also even help port congestion because ships will come in at a slower rate.
This will give the port more time to unload and reload those ships. Or they could start following IKEA’s example and start using more rail.
There’s a lot of options, but not much change.
When Will The Port Congestion End?
There’s no way to know for certain, but Goldman Sachs is certain the problem will continue into 2022.
The pandemic continues to increase consumer demand, and with a new variant in the world, it’s unlikely to end anytime soon. This will keep online shopping at record highs as consumers try to avoid leaving their homes.
Yet, the congestion at the port will only help raise inflation. As goods become scarce, the price also rises. So, hope for the best, but expect the worst.
Robert has been following and writing about environmental stories for years at GreenGeeks. He believes that highlighting environmentally friendly practices can help promote change in every household.