Ninety percent of world trade is transported on ships is an oft repeated statement within the maritime industry. Shipping is the lifeblood of international trade. Shipping is also by far the most efficient means of transport on a per ton of cargo carried basis. However that does not mean that shipping does not contribute to significant pollution on absolute terms.
Out of the total global air pollution shipping accounts for 18 to 30 percent of the nitrogen oxide, 9 percent of the sulphur oxides and 3.5 to 4 percent of all climate change emissions. (Schrooten, De Vlieger, Int Panis, & Pastori, 2009)
From the perspective of good corporate social responsibility and general conscientiousness, whether you are an operator in the maritime sector or an entity that depends on shipping for their procurement (which would be the vast majority of companies), moving towards a more sustainable form of shipping would be in everyone’s best interests.