The true carbon cost of sailing

Published on February 7th, 2024

New research reaches some surprising conclusions about which propulsion systems might actually have the lowest carbon footprint. Theo Stocker digs into the numbers for Yachting Monthly:

A white sail on a blue sea. What could be cleaner than that?’ Sailing nerds might recognise this quote from the all-time greatest sailing film, Wind. Or maybe that’s just me. Anyway, it’s easy to assume that drifting around with the breeze has little impact on the environment, let alone the global climate. But that assumption may be further from the truth than you think.

Certainly, the marine industry is tiny compared to other emitters of greenhouse gases, but it still registers on the scale. Recreational boats account for less than 0.1% of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, specifically 0.7% of transportation carbon dioxide (CO₂) emissions in the United States and 0.4% of transportation CO₂ emissions in Europe.

Those numbers sound small, but then consider that there are estimated to be 50 million recreational craft globally, with as many as one million new boats being added to that number every year. New research has now been published by the International Council of Marine Industry Associations (ICOMIA) as they seek to plot a way forwards for the leisure marine industry. – Full report

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