Seafaring accounts for a small part of Sweden’s domestic freight transport, but completely dominates when it comes to international freight transport. Boats and ferries are also common means of transport when it comes to passenger transport. There are about 700,000 leisure boats in Sweden, of which half a million have engines. International seafaring is increasing rapidly and results in a lot of environmental problems. Combustion of fuels produces climate-affecting emissions. How large the emissions will be depends much on the speed of the ship. Fast ferries (28-40 knots) emit more climate-affecting emissions per kilometer than aviation. However, this is not the case for slower seafaring. Continue reading for information and advice on conscious seafaring, by boat or ferry.
- Seafaring emits nitrogen oxides and sulphur that contribute to acidification as well as eutrophication and can affect human health.
- Seafaring is also reduced by the risk of oil and chemical spills in the event of accidents and the spread of alien species that enter ballast water.
- A small part of the emissions created by seafaring has a cooling effect on the climate, while the vast majority of emissions contribute to increased heating through emissions of soot particles (black carbon).
- According to the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency, seafaring has good conditions to become an important part of a sustainable transport system in the future, as it is generally energy-efficient due to its large cargo capacity and does not need expanded infrastructure. Efforts are being made to develop new, cleaner fuels.
- Several assessors believe that seafaring is already in many cases a good alternative for freight transport as it relieves trucks and aviation.
Ferry instead of flight?
Are you considering taking the boat because you have heard about the climate impact of aviation? It is not certain that it will be an environmental benefit. Ferries require a lot of fuel, which leads to high greenhouse gas emissions. Fast ferries are worse than slower ferries. In addition to the greenhouse gases, the ferries have other negative effects on the environment. When it comes to transporting goods in a fully loaded cargo ship, it is an energy-efficient mode of transport. But when it comes to passenger ships, the ships draw a lot of energy in relation to the number of people.
Tips for conscious seafaring
Rowing boat, sailboat, motorboat, yacht, canoe! They come in many different shapes and sizes, and the environmental impact also varies. Here we have collected tips on how you as a boat owner can reduce the environmental impact.
- Think about where you are going and check out what transportation options are available. Sometimes boats are the most environmentally friendly, sometimes not.
- Paddle, row, or sail! This has very little impact on the environment.
- Avoid fast ferries with cruising speeds of 28-40 knots, which are much more energy intensive. If there are slower options, choose that instead!
- If a boat trip is the shortest way to your destination, it is probably also the best choice from an environmental point of view (exceptions can be fast ferries).
- As with all transportation, the more passengers the less impact per person.
- When it comes to your own boat, change your two-stroke to a four-stroke with cleaner emissions. If you do not have the opportunity, use alkylate gasoline. And drive with common sense.
Page updated 2021.