Short Sea Shipping
Short Sea Shipping (SSS) is sea transport of goods or passengers where no oceans are crossed. SSS is promoted strongly by both international and national governments as an alternative for road transport over long distances. To justify this support with a scientific study, TML investigated the differences in emissions between the 2 modes. Together with road transport and shipping companies, data was collected for various parallel corridors. TML calculated emissions using this detailed data, with great accuracy, so that a fair comparison between the modes was possible. The results were presented to the Flemish Minister-President at a press conference.
The study indicated that there is no clear "winner" in this comparative study; SSS scores better than road transport in the field of CO2 emissions, but scores less for NOx, SO2 and PM emissions. CO2 has an impact on climate change; this is a global problem. NOx, SO2 and PM have an impact on regional air quality. The stringent emission regulation of recent years has made road transport remarkably cleaner. A similar wave of environment regulations did not occur for the maritime sector. As a result, at present, shipping performs worse compared to road transport for most polluents. Recently however, new steps are taken to reduce emissions from shipping.
In 2016 TML made an update, using the same methodology for 2 new trajectories. There is (again) no clear winner in this comparative study; SSS scores better than road traffic in CO2 emissions, similar to NOx and PM emissions, and worse in SO2 emissions.
Both modes have improved in 2016 compared to 2008; The improvement with SSS is significantly greater than road traffic with spectacular improvements for SO2 (up to factor 20 better), PM (up to factor 10 better) and for NOx (factor 3-4 better). This update confirms the conclusion of the study in 2008: SSS had to catch-up in terms of environmental performance.
From this study we can conclude that the environmental performance of SSS has indeed improved significantly.
Both the European Commission and the IMO have worked on environmental regulation. If the trend of improving environmental performance in maritime shipping continues, it is likely that SSS will win this race in the future.