Ports reveal unprecedented surge in harmful emissions; officials blame COVID-19 logjam
An Italian ship, carrying hundreds of containers of toxic cargo, has been delayed by the coronavirus. (Alessandro Haber)
Rising COVID-19 deaths have created a shortage of personal protective equipment, leading to a surge in emissions from ships, according to new research presented Thursday at the American Chemical Society’s annual Fall Meeting. COVID-19 cases across the globe have also generated a huge drop in cargo traffic to ports, which is creating a major bottleneck that could delay deliveries.
The findings show that COVID-19’s impact on global shipping is enormous, and that the coronavirus pandemic is causing a backlog of cargo from China to the U.S. and Europe.
In addition, COVID-19’s impact on emissions has been enormous, with the potential to contribute up to a third of the country’s greenhouse gas emissions. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said in March that COVID-19 would cause as much as 7 gigatons of CO2 to be released into the atmosphere.
“COVID-19 is causing a significant amount of emissions from shipping,” said Dr. Jonathan Naylor, an expert in global shipping and emissions from shipping and climate. “There’s just no way to track the emissions involved.”
The findings come as many countries are struggling to get their ports open to receive vital shipments, such as medical supplies and protective gear. The coronavirus crisis has also slowed the flow of essential goods from China to other countries, like the U.S. and Europe, in order to preserve economic stability.
The findings — from a study by Naylor that was presented Thursday morning to the American Chemical Society’s annual meeting in Boston — come as the U.S. is attempting to get its ports reopened.
“The COVID-19 situation