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Container ships need to be decarbonized sooner

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A few months ago, I warned that a container ship crisis could endanger Christmas without leaving enough goods on retail shelves. Since then, there have been similar concerns throughout the media, not only due to transportation issues, but also due to a shortage of truck drivers and unavailable products. As we approach November, the worst can happen.


This is a classic supply and demand mismatch.On the one hand, people all over the world managed to save Over US $ 5 trillion (3.6 trillion pounds) I wanted to use some of it now that the restrictions were lifted during the blockade.This is the reason World economy There was a strong recovery in 2021. IMF prediction Its global growth is 6% for the whole year. According to an intelligence report shared by the carrier with me, the extra demand exceeded 119 million. Shipping container Between January and August, it will be 6% higher than the equivalent period in 2019.

The supply chain is not dealing with this surge in orders.Port is struggling to load and unload Container ship Fast enough Nearly 600 Container ships are stuck outside docking areas around the world, nearly double the number at the beginning of the year.

The port is understaffed as many workers are trapped offsite due to COVID-19 restrictions. Containers are rarely sufficient, as ships that normally pick up empty containers and return to Asian ports are returning empty-handed instead to minimize delays.

Also, there are not enough truck drivers in many countries.It is well known that Britain is in short supply 100,000 drivers, Partly due to Brexit, Germany The EU as a whole is short of 400,000, while there is a shortage of about 80,000 drivers. This exacerbates the container problem.

For example, Felixstowe, the main port for container ships in the United Kingdom, is full of containers because there are not enough drivers to receive them. This delays the loading and unloading of the vessel, resulting in a 4-7 day wait.Major shipping company Like Maersk Instead, they are rerouted to a continental port, where goods are transshipped into smaller vessels and returned to the United Kingdom. All of these significantly slow delivery.

Another very important issue is the lack of raw materials and components. Suppliers are in short supply because they did not anticipate such a large amount of demand and are not as efficient as usual due to COVID. We also have to deal with energy shortages in countries such as China as the government is trying to reach its carbon emission targets. This means that many products cannot be completed. The latest notable examples are: Apple reportedly Due to lack of chips, production of 10 million iPhone 13s (11%) was stopped.

Good news

For all these reasons, it’s very likely that you won’t get exactly the products you need for Christmas 2021. But how long will this situation last?

From another private sector report, a group of Global Logistics CEOs were recently asked when they expected to return to normal in their supply chains, with only 37% thinking they would return to normal by the end of 2022. The rest is the first and the second quarter of 2023.

In my view, this is too pessimistic.We are watching Early signs China and the U.S. slow down and central banks are trying to make things worse By reducing “Money printing,” which is quantitative easing and raising interest rates.

In addition to rising consumer prices, especially gas and gasoline, this will make people more cautious about buying things. As they begin to spend some of the US $ 5 trillion saved to cover more urgent needs such as warming homes, the demand for goods drops sharply as a result. This won’t happen quickly enough to give great relief to the supply chain on this side of Christmas, but it will help rebalance the supply chain in 2022.

The supply of goods will also increase as suppliers invest in additional capacity in response to the current shortage. For example, according to a personal report from a shipping broker, a container shipping company has a record order for a new ship with a total loading capacity of 3.4 million TEU (a standard measure of transport capacity, which means “equivalent to 20 feet”). Was issued. .. This is 22% of the world’s fleet.

Another good news is about decarbonization.many container The ship is still running Fossil fuel, The industry is said to be responsible Almost 3% Changing this for global carbon emissions can cost billions of pounds, with groups of major companies such as Amazon, Ikea and Unilever. Just announced Use only ships with zero emissions by 2040.

In this regard, the fact that the 2021 transportation problem has made fares much higher than normal, about 10 times higher, has a silver backing.This makes shipping companies much more profitable than usual and hopefully part of this plunge. Invest in a ship It can be run on green fuel and has new features such as finer speed control. For example, if the port is congested, this can reduce carbon emissions by moving slowly to arrive at the time when it is notified that berthing is possible.

Still, major shipping companies will probably keep freight rates high after the supply chain normalizes and helps pay for fleet decarbonization. So while it is certain that the supply chain will resume normal operation in 2022, shipping costs will not be as cheap as it was in the pre-COVID era. That may be another reason to rethink our global supply model as follows: Bring production Close to the consumer. Again, that’s probably good news for carbon emissions.


Buying early will only increase supply shortages and panic.


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Container ships need to be decarbonized sooner

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