A report by the European Environment Agency finds that emissions of air pollutants and greenhouse gases from the shipping sector have increased substantially in the last two decades, contributing to both climate change and air pollution problems.
In 2007 national and international shipping was responsible for 3.3 % of global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions – and around 30 % of this is emitted on routes passing through European ports. Emissions from the sector are projected to grow by up to 4% per year over the next decade. There is a clear link between economic growth and the movement of goods, so emissions from shipping currently change in step with the level of economic activity. Carbon dioxide emissions from international shipping departing from EU ports increased by approximately 35% between 1990 and 2010. Other key pollutants have increased between 35 and 55 % over the same period. However, most emissions types have decreased since 2006, possibly due to the economic downturn and the legislation reducing SO2 levels. Note that most food transported internationally is carried in ships.
The citation is as follows: EEA (2013). The impact of international shipping on European air quality and climate forcing, EEA Technical report No 4/2013, European Environment Agency, Brussels.
You can download the report here.