Maritime transport and climate policy at critical juncture: UNCTAD

Monday, 19 October 2015 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

As the global community commits to the new Sustainable Development Goals and gears up for a new international climate policy agreement, the UNCTAD Review of Maritime Transport 2015 highlights the role of freight transport, including maritime transport, in addressing the global sustainability and resilience agenda.

With more than 80% of world merchandise trade by volume being carried by sea, maritime transport remains the backbone of international trade and globalisation, the report says. Equally, the sector is a key enabling factor for other sectors and economic activities.

The Review of Maritime Transport 2015 underlines that maritime transport is facing the dual challenge of climate change mitigation and adaptation. While curbing greenhouse gas emissions remains urgent to ensure manageable global warming levels, the effects of climate variability and change – irrespective of the causes – are already being felt in different parts of the world, often in the poorest countries which are less able to cope.

Seaports, acting as key nodes in international transport networks across supply chains, are particularly vulnerable to climate change due to their location in coastal and low-lying areas. They are likely to be affected directly and indirectly by climatic factors such as rising sea levels, extreme weather events and rising temperatures.

These factors will also affect port hinterland connections and transport corridors across transport networks as international trade increasingly requires the use of rail, road and waterway transport. In this context, building the climate resilience of maritime transport systems is a precondition for their long-term sustainability, the UNCTAD report says.