While economics tells us trade is good for GDP growth, how good is it for the planet? The environmental impact of trade journeys from point of origin to what is often a recycling centre can sometimes be overlooked, says trade economist Dr Rebecca Harding
Trade has an elephant in its room. In all the debate about trade wars and Brexit, the big missing piece of the jigsaw is the future of trade itself. If we acknowledge that trade is increasingly strategic and that it has become a part of national security strategy in the US and beyond1, then why is the discussion about sustainability and sustainable supply chains still in its infancy?
Shipping companies realise that they are fighting a battle with environmental lobbyists to clean up their act. Cargo ships account for between 2 and 3% of emissions pollution2 but overall contribute around 18% to the world’s total pollution levels3. Although tight new regulations imposed by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) to reduce the sulphur content of fuel oil will come into force during 2020, the issue is not just limited to the boats that account for 90% of the goods that are carried around the world.