Elda TANCREDI, Social Sciences Department, National University of Lujan, Argentina
This paper addresses complex links between the geography of international trade and environmental problems related to climate change. From a research project based on official documents from WTO, UNCTAD and IMO, the main trends in maritime freight transport have been reconstructed. This analysis shows that containerized cargo, which represents 24% of transported volume, performs more than half the value of all international maritime traffic. It is estimated that hypermobility inherent to globalization, fragmentation of production process and raise of intermediate goods trade, evolution of consumption and production levels, increase in types of cargo susceptible of containerized transport (e.g. agricultural cargo), and China's expansion in the global manufacturing value chain, have been determinants of containerized trade growth. Consequently, companies invest in larger container ships and container port terminals especially in Trans-Pacific and Asia-Europe main routes. Although maritime transport is the most efficient in terms of CO2 emissions per ton of cargo transported per mile, they represent 10% of the emissions of transport sector, while container ship emissions imply 25.6% of the sector's total emissions. IMO's Fourth GHG Study published in early 2021 indicates that, beyond the new reduction policies, the intensity of coal use as a whole and in all types of ship, the GHG emissions from maritime transport and the share of ship emissions in total global anthropogenic emissions have increased between 2012 to 2018. This poses a huge challenge in defining sustainability and GHG emission reduction strategies for maritime transport. The adoption of an Initial Strategy confirms IMO's commitment to increase energy efficiency and to reduce and eliminate GHG emissions in ships and ports as soon as possible in 21st century. It is proposed here to monitor compliance with its roadmap and assess the impact of the new proposed measures.
Keywords: Geography of International Trade|Maritime Freight Transport|Containerized cargo |GHG emission reduction politices