Shipping climate change bill could be passed on to consumers

Lucy Harley-McKeown
·2 min read
The container ship Maersk Bali has containers unloaded whilst at berth at DP World container terminal in Southampton Docks. (Photo by Andrew Matthews/PA Images via Getty Images)
The shipping industry as a whole accounts for about 2% of the global total, and transport costs can mean a big increase in an item's overall carbon footprint. Photo: Andrew Matthews/PA Images via Getty Images

Consumers could end up picking up the cost of increased shipping charges to tackle climate change, according to Maersk's (AMKBY) CEO.

The shipping firm head, Soren Skou, told the BBC the surcharge would cost customers very little each.

The industry as a whole accounts for about 2% of the global total, and transport costs can mean a big increase in an item's overall carbon footprint.

Research has shown that if shipping was a country, it would be the world's sixth biggest polluter, clocking up higher carbon emissions than nations such as Germany.

Skou said in a BBC interview that shouldering the cost as a company would cost billions of dollars, while for consumers it would be far less of a hit per item.

For example, he said, it "would in a container with sneakers from Vietnam, translate into something like six cents per pair of sneakers. So I don't think that it will really impact the consumption opportunities for consumers out there. "

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Skou estimated the company would have to double its current $4bn spend on fuel in order to go carbon free, and covering those costs could lead to a 20% increase in prices for customers of the world's biggest shipping firm.

The news also comes as awareness increases about the carbon hit of the products around us. Revelations about the potential environmental impact of digital currencies such as Bitcoin (BTC-USD) have also surfaced. Recent research by Cambridge University found that the crypto asset uses more energy than Argentina, the Netherlands and the United Arab Emirates.

Mining the virtual coin involves heavy computer calculations to verify transactions. Bitcoin’s annual electricity consumption is unlikely to fall unless the value of the currency drops, as the price increases so does the energy consumption, researchers at the Cambridge Centre said.

The energy it uses could power all kettles used in the UK for 27 years, it said.

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