The Enna Maersk (Copyright © Jan Svendsen)
Goods are transported long distances around Australia using ships, trains and road transport. One of these forms of transport is more climate friendly than the others.
When it comes to transporting goods and producing the least amount of greenhouse gases, ships win hands down. While ships transport about 28% of the long distance freight around Australia, it only produces 9.6% of the combined greenhouse gases. Long haulage road transport has very high carbon dioxide emissions compared with ships. Also the carbon dioxide emissions from ships have been going down, while the emissions from road transport have been greatly increasing.
New ships are about 30% more fuel efficient than older ships. The engines in older ships can be modified to make them up to 20% more fuel efficient. So in the future ships will produce even less greenhouse gases.
Ships only need to visit ports to discharge and load cargoes. They spend most of their time efficiently slipping through the water and don’t need constantly maintained roads and railway tracks!
So it seems that for long haulage, cargo ships should be encouraged, followed by rail.
Ships hulls need to be kept free of barnacles and other growth which if allowed to build up cause resistance to the ship moving easily through the water, this results in additional fuel being used to drive the ship.
To ensure ships hulls are kept free of barnacles and other growth special antifouling paint is used on the underwater sections of the hull.