When the tanker Ever Given got stuck in the Suez Canal, the world’s attention focused on the risks and environmental costs
In March, 2021, the massive cargo ship Ever Given wedged itself sideways in the Suez Canal, holding up maritime traffic through the canal for six days. With a length of 1,300 feet, Ever Given is longer than the Empire State Building is tall, and its diagonal position kept any but the smallest ships from getting through the canal.
As the world watched dramatic efforts to free the ship, an immediate spike in oil prices and talk of a shortage of goods drew public attention to the fact that diesel-powered freighters such as Ever Given transport 90% of the world’s cargo and account for 80% of the world’s trade. This, in turn, revealed how heavily the global economy relies on gas-fueled, carbon-emitting ships. Most freighters use ultra-polluting, sludgy “bunker fuel,” making the shipping industry responsible for 3% of the world’s total global emissions. And that figure is set to explode to 17% by 2050, according to the European Parliament.