If ocean shipping were a country, it would be the sixth-largest carbon emitter, releasing more CO2 annually than Germany. International shipping accounts for about 2.2% of all global greenhouse gas emissions, according to the U.N. International Maritime Organization. But change is on the way. Wind, solar electric, and hydrogen-powered ships offer innovative low- or no-carbon alternatives to fossil fuel-powered cargo vessels, with wind about to make a huge comeback in shipping, say experts. New experimental sail designs include hard sails, rotating vertical cylinders, and even kites. Today, startup companies like Fair Transport (with its retrofitted wooden vessels Tres Hombres and Nordlys); modest sized proof-of-concept firms, with purpose-built vessels like Grain de Sail; and large cargo ship retrofits and purpose-built vessels like Neoline’s new large cargo vessels, are starting to address CO2 emissions. Through the late 1940s, huge steel sailing ships carried cargos on some ocean routes. By 2030 — less than 100 years since the end of the last great era of sail — fossil fuel-powered cargo vessels may give way to high- and (s)low-tech sailing ships thanks to a revolution in energy technology, that reduces shipping costs with less emissions. In January 2010, an “unpowered” wooden sailing vessel […]


  1. Once Carbon Prices go up, these companies will effectively have such competitive shipping costs that they will charge less and have lower costs, hence driving the market there. Brilliant.

    • Agreed 100% The shipping industry has always been somewhat insulated from emission reduction rules due to the fact that global economics relied so heavily on it. Now, with the new carbon rules, and new technology to reduce the fuel consumed and thus the carbon emitted, these technologies will be not only cheaper from a carbon pricing point of view, but also just due to the fact that they cost less to operate in the sheer volume of fuel used! Win win for the industry, the consumers and the planet.
      – Grant


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