The world depends on an international sailing, but carbon dioxide emissions from the industry are increasing. Martha Henriques wonders how a historic mode of transportation may inspire the future generation of environmentally friendly ships. Pay attention to everything at you – from the smartphone, you’re carrying to the clothing you’re donning – chances are that 90% of all you own got to you via the sea.
Shipping costs are at the core of many of the world’s largest supply chains, which becomes all too obvious when issues arise. It also accounts for about 3% of global greenhouse gas emissions.
To achieve net zero emissions by 2050, international shipping must lower its emissions by 15% by 2030. Thus far, industrial emissions have been trending more or less regularly in the opposite direction.
One method for reducing shipping emissions is to use a relatively old technology: sails. The wind is a clean and abundant source of propulsion at sea. Some shipbuilders are adopting this historical idea very seriously, including building the ship’s superstructure out of timber.
Some, such as Oceanbird, located in Sweden, are taking a more modern approach, constructing a model ship with four stiff sails that are able to not only propel the ship forwards but also enhance its speed and maneuverability.
Sails will not be the sole solution to decarbonizing shipping; renewable fuels will also play an important role. Wind power, on the other hand, is one promising solution to minimize shipping’s dependency on fossil fuels.
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