The UK’s Ministry of Defence has published a report, which outlines the physical threat that out-of-control climate change poses to the global shipping industry and trade routes.
Changing weather could disrupt key shipping chokepoints, including the Panama Canal, the extensive report predicts.
The report also looks at the effects of climate change on aviation and road and rail links.
Inland waterways are also likely to be affected by climate change, with the government report stating the cost of shipping on the North American Great Lakes is likely to increase by 9% by 2050 as water levels drop.
Other parts of the world may experience much higher rainfall and might have to close inland waterways as they become unsafe for use.
By 2050, shipments of raw materials are likely to double to Western economies and quadruple to other regions, and global freight trade could grow between 330-380%, the British study claims.
“The melting of polar ice is likely to provide new, shorter sea routes through the Arctic. However, climate change is likely to result in increasingly intense storms, sea level rise and periods of more intense rainfall, which are expected to disrupt shipping, increase the frequency of port closures, reduce the speed of passage, require routes to be altered, damage infrastructure and disrupt major trade routes,” the report stated.
In terms of the regulatory environment the study noted that the International Maritime Organization will need to modify regulations in response to advances in technology such as automated shipping and new energy-efficient means of propulsion including solar power or modern sails.
The full 282-page report can be accessed here.