University of California Transportation Center
Reducing Freight Greenhouse Gas Emissions in the California Corridor: The potential of short sea shipping
- Author(s): Zou, Bo
- Smirti, Megan
- Hansen, Mark
- et al.
Greenhouse gases (GHG), the gases that cause climate change, are a major global concern. In the transportation sector, GHG reduction initiatives focus on passenger travel over goods movement, despite increasing freight demand and related emissions. California, with its recent GHG reduction legislation and large freight centers and corridors, provides a unique case study to evaluate the introduction of an alternative freight mode. Short sea shipping (SSS) offers a low GHG emission alternative to overland modes such as heavy-duty trucks. Analysis shows that this service is justifiable from a demand and operational perspective. Estimation of GHG emissions change from mode shift shows that SSS could significantly assist the California freight corridor in meeting a GHG reduction goal. The operational speeds of short sea ships are a more crucial factor than ship size in influencing overall GHG emissions; in addition, the target market does not require excessively high speed. Under lower speed, increasing ship size is not expected to bring significant emission benefits, but adds the operators’ economic risks under demand uncertainties. In addition to market segmentation, reliability is another key to the SSS’s market penetration. The economic potential of SSS is dependent on both carrier-based efforts and governmental intervention, the latter of which may further favor the development of SSS in the future policy environment.