Swedish shipping is doing better, but how environmentally friendly is it?

During the first half of 2021, both freight and passenger traffic increased and the unemployment rates fell sharply. Swedish shipping’s international competitive situation looks promising, states Trafikanalys in a new report. At the same time, the environmental efficiency of shipping is being questioned.

Statistics from Trafikanalys have previously shown that shipping, especially passenger traffic, was hit hard during the pandemic year 2020. The number of passengers was more than halved, lines were closed and up to two thousand people lost their jobs. Things went better for freight traffic – the reduction was a few percent.

In the first quarter of 2021, the decrease (-61%) in international travel by ship continued compared with the first quarter of 2020, writes Trafikanalys in the report Swedish Shipping’s international competitive situation in 2021. However, the second quarter reversed the trend as the number of passengers almost doubled compared to the same quarter in 2020. development the same line, but the differences in decreases and increases are only about a few percent.

Unemployment is also following the same trend. In 2020, the number of onboard employees in the Swedish-registered fleet decreased by 32 percent. During the second quarter of 2021, however, there was a turnaround and in May and June, unemployment among seafarers was almost 50 percent lower than in the same months in 2020.

In summary, Trafikanalys states that 2020 was not a positive year for Swedish shipping’s international competitive situation, but that 2021 looks more promising.

But there are things to do. Traffic analysis highlights, for example, that research is important for Swedish shipping’s international competitive situation and that the Swedish state’s role as research funder is a means of competition where the state can influence the direction of Swedish maritime research.

There is a need for this. Because how environmentally friendly is shipping really? Traffic analysis addresses the government’s ambition to move goods from road transport to shipping. “One reason for this is that shipping is a type of traffic without congestion, but also that it is relatively efficient in terms of environmental emissions per tonne-kilometer and that the infrastructure is cheap. However, a comparison of the external effects of shipping with other modes of transport suggests that shipping is not necessarily the most appropriate mode of transport “, writes Trafikanalys and continues:

“When it comes to calculating shipping’s transport work and fuel consumption, the socio – economic costs of freight shipping are comparable to those for heavy trucks with trailers. If you calculate the socio-economic costs of ferry traffic per passenger kilometer (and take into account the goods on board the ferry), the costs are higher than for both petrol-powered cars and flights. However, the conditions vary greatly between different categories of vessels. “

The report (in swedish)

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