Nowadays, Christmas arrives by ship not sleigh. The labels of our new Christmas jumpers, novelty socks, toys and mobile phones reveal the global trade in manufactured goods and the huge distances they travel.
Shipping is more energy efficient than road or air transport, but a lack of controls on ship exhausts and the poor quality of marine fuel mean 15% of global nitrogen oxides and 8% of sulphur gaseous pollution come from ocean-going ships.
Marine fuel is mainly residues from refining road and aviation fuel, and therefore contains most of the impurities. Vanadium emitted from ship funnels can be found in the air throughout Europe – in Paris and London, for example. But the greatest impact of shipping pollution in Europe
is felt in Denmark and the Netherlands.
However, growth in shipping and increasingly stringent controls on land-based pollution sources mean ship pollution is set to grow as a proportion of our pollution exposure.