Global Shipping Goes Sailing - Oceana USA
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January 24, 2008

Global Shipping Goes Sailing

In case you didn’t know, part of Oceana’s plan to tackle global warming is to urge tighter regulations on global shipping, which currently emits more greenhouse gases than global aviation, including 30 percent of the world’s nitrous oxide.

Thanks to market forces–i.e. the $100 price tag on a barrel of oil–the shipping industry is starting to understand that if they reduce their oil use (and thus emissions) it can greatly buffer their shrinking profit margins.

Exhibit A was highlighted in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal in an article about SkySails, which is just starting to outfit smaller vessels with giant, parachute-like canopies that fly 100 to 300 meters above the ship.  According to the article, one sail on a 10,000-ton cargo ship can reduce fuel consumption by 10 to 20 percent, saving nearly $2000/day in fuel.

Bill Gates would call what SkySails is doing “Creative Capitalism.”  I know there is a lot of data to collect to see if this venture pans out, but I say it’s about time.