climate-friendly shipping

Our oceans cover 71% of our planet and their currents govern the world's weather and churn a multitude of life. As humans, we depend on these waters for comfort and survival, but global warming and overfishing threaten our planet’s largest habitat. Global shipping handles roughly 90 per cent of our global trade. Nearly 11 billion tons of stuff per year, but the industry is also responsible for around 3 to 4 per cent of all greenhouse gas emissions. Neither good for our oceans nor land for that matter.

Although shipping is the least environmentally damaging form of commercial transport (compared with our land-based industry), at current growth rates, it could represent some 10% of global greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

The biggest problem is that most ships run on fuel oil - as opposed to cleaner diesel. Large ships can use more than 110 tons of fuel oil per day and take two weeks or more to traverse our oceans. Without going into too much detail, fuel oil contains low levels of sulphur, and it is highly polluting. Let’s just agree it is pretty crap for the environment, and, as a result —> bad for us!

A lot of work (not enough, though) is done on increasing the fuel efficiency of ship engines. However, there is another solution.

CO2-free sea transport with sailing ships!

More and more organisations start reviewing their entire value chain with a focus on sustainability, including sea transport with sailing vessels. Of course, these will not replace large containerships but focus more on transporting fair trade organic goods such as chocolate, rum, coffee, wine or olive oil. There are many sail cargo ship projects underway, and in most cases, they all offer emission-free sailing opportunities for interested sailors as well! Have a look at these cool teams below. In no particular order:


EcoClipper is currently raising funds for their emission-free sail cargo ships. Check out their website for more info! They have a dedicated team to oversee all aspects of ship management for the future fleet of EcoClipper's. Their commercial department will establish, manage and carry out the sales strategy and voyage planning.


Since 2007 Fairtransport's mission has been to raise awareness of climate-friendly transportation and minimise communal carbon footprint. With their engineless sailing fleet, Tres Hombres and Nordlys, they trade organic and traditionally crafted goods and ship sustainable cargo overseas by wind power alone.

Grayhound Ventures

Grayhound Ventures offers the unique sailing experience on a traditional 18th-century lugger – a fast sailing vessel with 'lug' sails built for smuggling or chasing smugglers. You can help contribute to a greener way of thinking, travelling and transporting cargo while experiencing sailing in its purest form.


Sailcargo is a group of shipwrights, carpenters, business professionals and sailors. Ceiba, a 45m Square-Topsail Cargo Schooner, is their effort to inspire change in the industry. She is a sustainably constructed vessel that will carry cargo, 100% emission-free. When operational in 2022, she will be the world's largest, active, clean ocean-going cargo vessel.


The Avontuur is a two-masted gaff-rigged schooner that was built in 1920. Until 2005 she was used as a sailing cargo vessel, most recently by Dutch Captain Paul Wahlen. He sailed cargo between the North Sea, Baltic, North Atlantic and across to Caribbean ports, where she was widely regarded as one of the last true cargo sailing ships of the twentieth century. After years serving as a day passenger ship along the Dutch coast and West Friesian islands, the Avontuur became the foundation of the Timbercoast community in autumn 2014.

Blue Schooner Company

The Blue Schooner Company navigates on commercial routes in Europe and across the Atlantic to carry goods, essentially fair trade and produced following biological methods. They have developed a business model that rests on the transportation and sale of goods, transporting passengers, and being present at nautical events.

All images are copyrighted by the respective organisations and shown here to support the article.

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