Wonne Afronelly
4 min readJan 29, 2020
Photo of Vessel taken at Port Harcourt Tourist Beach 2017
Vessel at Port Harcourt Tourist Beach 2017 Credit: Afronelly

So I asked myself, If I had to purchase some of my favourite products and I realized the carbon cost of shipping these particular products annually from overseas, is equivalent to acquiring infrastructures needed in my city #PortHarcourt that could help #EndBlackSoot in Port Harcourt and Southern Nigeria, would I still make purchase? ( )

Measure Carbon Footprint

You see, we all need to take out time to measure our carbon footprints on a daily basis if possible; either as individuals or households, groups, companies and industries, corporate bodies, institutions and governments at all levels. If we all learnt about the processes involved in the process of manufacture, distribution channels and finally to small retailers and consumers, we could switch preferences from high freight costs and carbon shipping having realised the environmental and health impacts.

The Carbon footprint of a packaging material and or packaging system is the total amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other green house gases emitted over the life cycle of that product or service, expressed as kilograms of CO2 equivalents. This includes all greenhouse gases generated in the manufacture of the raw materials, fabrication of the packaging system, transport of materials and finished systems, the used phase including the end-of-life disposal of the products. These carbon footprints are often included in the analysis of the larger product system that uses the packaging, but it can also be seen as a distinct environmental performance metric that can be calculated and optimized separately.

Transportation of produce from overseas translates to very high carbon footprints. We can help reduce carbon footprints and carbon cost on freights in volumes by simply patronizing more local producers and marketers. Most local produce usually have little or no carbon footprints resulting from transportation from overseas, they are safer and healthier for human health and the environment.

The shipping industry today, which carries about 90% of all global world trade in volume, faces the challenge of decarbonization. Decarbonizing shipping could be a powerful engine that drives green development around the world.

In line with Paris Agreement under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, in particular Sustainable Development Goal 13 to take urgent action in combating climate change; zero-emission vessels need to start entering service from 2030 to achieve up to 50 percent reduction in carbon dioxide (CO2) by 2050. The shipping industry emits about 1 billion tonnes of CO2 annually, and this accounts for approximately 3 percent of global emissions; which is likely to increase up to 1.7 billion tonnes with high demand of shipping activities if alternative methods are not adopted. Studies show that only the 15 biggest ships in the world produce more pollution than at least 700 cars all around the world.

Effects on Human Health

We need to understand that “Environmental hazards are not just the government problem but the people problem”. There are major impacts of carbon shipping in the environment ranging from water pollution, ocean noise pollution to air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. A major greenhouse gas emitted is the carbon dioxide (CO2), which forms up to 80% of all greenhouse gases in recent years. An increase in the amount of carbon dioxide leads to rising ocean levels and melting ice caps which cause flooding; as a result of overabundance of greenhouse gases trapping additional heat.

Black carbon (BC) sometimes referred to as black soot, a major component of harmful- particulate matter, subcategory of PM 2.5; accounts for huge greenhouse emissions after CO2 and contributes mostly to climate impacts of shipping and the environment and increases heart and lung problems in humans.

Ships emit about 67,000 tonnes of BC, equivalent to 1.1 % of total global anthropogenic black carbon emissions.

Inhalation of BC is associated with health problems including respiratory and cardiovascular disease, cancer, even birth defects.

BC could lead to reduction in lung function especially in patients with a respiratory deficiency as asthma patients. Moreover, inflammatory reactions may arise in the lungs and, by spreading lead to degradation of the autonomous nervous system, which indirectly affects heart function. More critical is impact in children, a high level of exposure to fine particulate matter can affect the development of the lungs with frequent occurrence of respiratory diseases- bronchitis, chronic cough, sinusitis and colds.

BC also affects visibility, reduces agricultural productivity harms ecosystems and aggravates global warming.

Social Cost

The social cost of carbon is a measure of the economic harm from those impacts, expressed as the dollar value of the total damages from emitting one tonne of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. The current central estimate of the social cost of carbon is roughly $40 per tonne. With a current emission of up to 1.7 billion tonnes, global carbon social cost would translate $68 billion.

Moreso, despite the difficulty in quantifying the value of world shipping trade volume in monetary terms, as figures for trade estimates are traditionally in terms of tonne-miles, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) estimates that the operation of merchant ships contributes about US$380 billion in freight rates within the global economy, equivalent to about 5% of total world trade.

Recent studies have also shown that poor air quality due to international shipping which accounts for approximately 400,000 premature deaths per year globally, may incur society an annual cost of more than €58 billion.

Is Decarbonization (zero carbon shipping) possible?

An emphatic Yes! With innovative zero emission technologies that could replace fossil fuels such as wind and batteries.

So, I would buy more local produce to #GrowNigeria and reduce carbon shipping cost as well as impacts of climate change. Yes, to zero carbon shipping and zero carbon products packaging!

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Wonne Afronelly

An Environment Broadcast Journalist, Activist and Youth Advocate, Content developer, Commère. Initiator MyEnvironment MyWealth; publisher The Verdant Circus Mag