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Biting the hand that feeds

"When is shipping discussed in wider society?

When it’s all doom and gloom, when a disaster happens and when people are not fully informed.

Negativity sells.

The latest instalment comes from The Guardian reporting how “resident groups [are] mounting a high court challenge to plans for a new wharf in Greenwich.”

"Huge cruise ships will worsen London air pollution, campaigners warn”

I am not denying that there will be impacts both positive and negative as a result of the planned Enderby Wharf in Greenwich.

However, a segment of the industry has been isolated, and reported with a lack of context entwined within a rhetoric of “not in my back yard!”

The shipping industry carries in excess of 90% of the world’s trade and is streaks ahead of both truck and air freight which this infographic demonstrates:

“Air pollution from international shipping accounts for around 50,000 premature deaths per year in Europe…”
The European Environment Agency (EEA) estimates that air pollution continues to be responsible for more than 430,000 premature deaths in Europe. (

That’s 11.6% accounted for by international shipping – so what’s causing the other 88.4%?

The implications of shipping in Europe are “an annual cost to society of more than €58bn.”

The European Community Shipowners’ Associations (ECSA) – February 2015 highlights that:

“the total GDP contribution of the European shipping industry in 2013 is estimated to have been €147 billion.”
It continues “€1 million the European shipping industry contributes to GDP itself, it creates another €1.6 million elsewhere in the European economy.”

This is a huge amount of capital generated by one industry.

At a time when the economy is on everyone’s lips, let’s pay homage to an industry with a huge GDP contribution.

“55 liners a year… carrying up to 1,800 passengers” are staggering numbers.

But so is the thought of 191 Airbus A380s that would be needed to carry the same volume of people.

Putting this in to context, I could guess which one would get more complaints and more resistance.
As every action has a reaction, every positive has a negative – that can’t be denied.

However, the point here is that the industry is much bigger and has a larger impact on people’s everyday lives in a positive way.

There are initiatives, forums, groups, organisations and campaigns working on improving the industry as a whole.

When we think shipping, we need context and above all we need to think positive.

Don’t bite the hand that feeds!"

This guest blog was written by David Tubb, who leads Spinnaker's European Technical team. You can tweet David @SG_DTubb

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