This chapter provides an overview of international shipping, its recent and future growth, how it is regulated, as well as its relationship with trade, energy consumption, emissions, and climate change.
Key Themes: History – Growth – Regulation – Energy Sources – Climate Change
UNCTAD views maritime transport as the backbone of globalisation. The efficiency of shipping as a mode of transport and increasing economic liberalization means the industry is likely to continue to grow. The increasing billions of people moving out of poverty and entering the global economic market will drive this growth. The question of how the expected environmental impact from increased shipping should be mitigated remains hotly debated. Due to the international environment of the industry, regulating and enforcing standards of shipping is complex and logistically difficult. Increasing measures to regulate and control emissions from shipping to mitigate global warming will add to this regulatory burden and compliance costs. However, there is no masking that overall emissions of ships are predicted to increase beyond quantities that would allow climate targets to be achieved.