The Role of International Policy in Mitigating Global Shipping Emissions

Transportation has been called one of the four cornerstones of globalization, along with communication, international standardization, and trade liberalization. International markets for goods only exist because transportation allows trading to occur efficiently, and international maritime shipping has been an important engine of international trade growth. Responding to strong market signals and adopting technological innovations, the maritime industry transformed its technologies, national registries, and labor resources over the past decades to serve the demands of globalization.

Shipping and other international transport providers also identify themselves as a cross-sectoral link in a global supply network that must adapt to emerging constraints related to energy supply, the environment, and economics. International policy developments are directly addressing the movement of goods by ships for both environmental
and security concerns.

We focus on the environmental dimensions that have engaged international shipping in the socio-political dialogue. This article discusses the role of international policy in mitigating global shipping emissions to reduce climate impacts and protect the environment. We outline three policy paradigms informing international and domestic negotiations determining greenhouse-gas mitigation targets: a) the invisible hand of the market; b) the guiding hand of performance-focused policies; and c) the firm hand of regulatory requirements and restrictions. A policy implementation framework is presented to achieve environmental goals across all commercial freight modes
including international shipping.

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