RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, NC: A report by research institute RTI International says the climate crisis could cost the global shipping industry up to US$25 billion a year by 2100.
Based on past impacts and future scenarios, it projects additional annual damages to port infrastructure could reach nearly US$18 billion by 2100 while storm-related port disruptions will add a further US$ 7.5 billion.
However the report authors say “finding data on this topic is sparse or completely lacking for many areas” and acknowledge costs could be much higher.
“While our report uses the best information available to paint a picture of the true economic cost of climate change on international shipping, the reality is that these figures are likely underestimating the total scale of the consequences,” explained RTI director of Ecosystem Services research George van Houtven. “Considering the unpredictable volatility of climate change and the immense complexity of the shipping sector, we simply need more data to show the full picture. However, the available evidence strongly indicates that the costs will be great.”
Produced for the Environmental Defense Fund, the report ‘Act Now or Pay Later: The Costs of Climate Inaction for Ports and Shipping’ recommends the sector reduces its risk by:
• Committing to full decarbonisation by 2050, in line with the Paris Agreement.
• Supporting a market-based mechanism to reduce shipping emissions at the International Maritime Organization.
• Investing in zero-emission fuels and technology.
• Supporting an equitable transition for the shipping industry to ensure the brunt of damages and adaptation costs do not disproportionately fall on developing nations.
Project director Ingrid Sidenvall Jegou from the Global Maritime Forum added: “This report only reinforces the business case for shipping decarbonisation to begin now, emphasizing that a just and equitable energy transition is an opportunity for the private sector and developing countries alike.”
In December last year the International Thwaites Glacier Collaboration (ITGC) announced the West Antarctica glacier had become increasingly unstable.
“Thwaites is the widest glacier in the world,” noted Ted Scambos, a senior research scientist at the U.S. Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences. “It’s doubled its outflow speed within the last 30 years, and the glacier in its entirety holds enough water to raise sea level by over two feet. And it could lead to even more sea-level rise, up to 10 feet, if it draws the surrounding glaciers with it.”
In 2020 a report by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) predicted a global temperature rise of 2.0 Celsius would melt the West Antarctica Ice Shelf and raise the world’s ocean by 2.5 metres.
The World Economic Forum’s (WEF) 2022 Global Risks Report has warned global ecosystems are heading beyond tipping points. At that moment, it adds, efforts to decarbonise societies “would be rendered mute".
The WEF also acknowledges companies continue to obstruct a transition to net-zero carbon by lobbying, greenwashing and sowing misinformation and distrust in many countries.
“The climate crisis remains the biggest long-term threat facing humanity,” commented Zurich Insurance Group Chief Risk Officer Peter Giger. “It is not too late for governments and businesses to act on the risks they face and to drive an innovative, determined and inclusive transition that protects economies and people.”
Story Type: News