Environmental Challenges: The Toll Of Shipping Diversions On Carbon Emissions


  • Ships avoiding the Red Sea due to Houthi attacks have emitted approximately 13.6 million extra tonnes of CO2 over four months, equivalent to the pollution of about 9 million cars.
  • This poses challenges for companies aiming to reduce emissions across their supply chains, highlighting the urgent need for environmental action in the shipping industry.

Ships are taking longer routes around the Cape of Good Hope instead of passing through the Suez Canal due to ongoing attacks by Houthi rebels in the Red Sea area. This detour, in place since mid-December, adds about a week to the journey between South Asia and northern Europe. However, it comes at a significant environmental cost: the additional fuel burned has led to approximately 13.6 million extra tonnes of CO2 emissions over the past four months, equivalent to the pollution generated by about 9 million cars during the same period, according to a report by consultancy INVERTO, a subsidiary of Boston Consulting Group Inc.

Environmental Impact on Supply Chains

This increase in emissions poses a challenge for companies striving to reduce pollution across their supply chains. Sushank Agarwal, a managing director at INVERTO, notes that the extra emissions resulting from this crisis make it difficult for companies to meet their net zero targets. To achieve these goals, companies may need to reduce emissions elsewhere in their supply chains or invest in more carbon offset initiatives, both of which can be costly.

Sectoral Response and Future Challenges

Although significant, the additional emissions are just a fraction of the shipping industry’s overall carbon footprint. The International Maritime Organization, the sector’s global regulator, is working on implementing the world’s first global carbon levy, slated to take effect in 2027. However, the planet continues to warm, underscoring the urgency of addressing emissions from shipping and other sectors.

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Source: Business Today