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Revisiting history: Can shipping achieve a second socio-technical transition for carbon emissions reduction?

Pettit, Stephen ORCID:, Wells, Peter ORCID:, Haider, Jane ORCID: and Abouarghoub, Wessam ORCID: 2018. Revisiting history: Can shipping achieve a second socio-technical transition for carbon emissions reduction? Transportation Research Part D: Transport and Environment 58 , pp. 292-307. 10.1016/j.trd.2017.05.001

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This paper draws on socio-technical transitions theory to contextualise recent developments in the technological and operational eco-efficiency of ships, which may ameliorate but not resolve sustainability challenges in shipping. Taking an historical perspective, the paper argues that shipping is fundamentally a derived demand arising out of, but also enabling, the spatial separation of production and consumption that are integrated through global value chains. It is argued that the twin processes of innovation-enabled specialisation (into e.g. container ships; bulk carriers etc.) and increased scale both of ships and of shipping operations have embedded shipping into logistics systems of increasing complexity and reach. The objective of the paper is to demonstrate, using secondary data, the long-run trends in the growth of shipping carbon emissions for bulkers and tankers, as well as the impact of increased scale and vessel speed on such emissions. A fuel-based, top-down, methodology, based on fuel consumption estimates derived from secondary source industry data that are suitable for a macro-level analysis, is used to estimate global shipping carbon emissions. It is argued that technologies or operational innovations that reduce the environmental burdens of shipping, while useful, do not represent the socio-technical system ‘regime’ shift that international maritime logistics requires in order to contribute to improved sustainability. Rather, in the relative absence of strong governance mechanisms in the maritime field, it is underlying ‘landscape’ shifts in production and consumption that are likely to act to reduce the demand for shipping and hence to be more significant in the longer run.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Business (Including Economics)
Publisher: Elsevier
ISSN: 1361-9209
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 5 May 2017
Date of Acceptance: 3 May 2017
Last Modified: 07 Nov 2023 20:28

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