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World trade growth may propel fourfold increase in size of the maritime carbon footprint, WISTA UK meeting is told

control," said the Clarkson Research chief.

He said described the impact of the "supercharged growth" of China’s economy. China’s population was greater than that of all of the nations of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. While Japan annually imports 7.5 tons of cargo per capita, Europe 6.2 tons, and North America 3.8 tons, China is still only at 0.8 tons – yet the total import figure for that nation totalled 1.4bn tons. As that figure grew, the matrix would start to give a different pattern of growth and new patterns of trade.

If today’s trends continued, seaborne cargo would rise from 8bn to 26bn tonnes in 2050, a much bigger carbon footprint. It had to be asked whether that would be environmentally possible, and how much of it would be propelled by fossil fuel. Fifty years from now, the carbon footprint might be 300% greater. "With peak oil in prospect and billions of new consumers flooding into the world markets, fossil fuels will become scarcer," said Dr Stopford.

He told the WISTA audiencethat fossil fuels had been at the heart of changes in shipping. The enormous, 2006-built boxship Emma Maersk is powered by an engine weighing 2,300 tons, the world’s largest diesel unit, and capable of 110,000 horsepower. That engine is heavier than one of the greatest ships of the sailing age, the 1777-built HMS Agamemnon of 1,384 tonnes dw. The Emma Maersk engine "does the work of three million 18th century men. If men propelled the Emma Maersk, it would need a city the size of Greater Manchester to house them," said Dr Stopford. "The point of this is just to restate the importance of fossil fuels."

He said that following the shipping freight boom of most of the last decade, we were moving into the cyclical element. It looked like 2010 would be the peak for shipyard deliveries, with 97m gross tons having been completed. The latest figures showed that the fleet was growing at 7%. Until the beginning of the boom the growth rate had been about 2% a year. We needed to deal with a shipbuilding surplus which is as bad as in the 1970s, said Dr Stopford.

WISTA-UK’s next event will be on March 16 in London, the Annual Debate with the subject this year the dilemma of whether ships should employ armed guards to defend themselves against pirate attacks. A separate press release is beingissued giving details of the Debate.

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