The basic facts. How do the emissions of ships and cars really compare?

As a stark illustration of the scale of maritime shipping emissions these are often compared with car emissions, with claims like the following being made:

  • ‘The sixteen largest ships emit the same amount of CO2 as all the world’s cars.’
  • ‘The world’s seventeen largest ships emit more sulphur than the global car fleet.’
  • ‘A seagoing container vessel is just as polluting as up to 50 million cars.’

The aim of this concise study was to fact-check these kinds of claims. To this end estimates for the CO2, SOx and NOx emissions of maritime vessels and cars were established and used to assess the veracity of the claims. The study shows that the majority of such claims are false.

Summary and conclusion of the study are available in English.