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TOPIC: shipping


How The Greek Shipping Industry Is Cashing In On Putin's War

Moscow relies on international shipping companies to ship its oil, especially tankers flying the Greek flag. To protect its lucrative business, Athens is resisting tougher sanctions — and thus playing right into Vladimir Putin's hands.

ATHENS — The world knows by now how much oil revenues help finance Russia's war against Ukraine. Around one-quarter of Russia's budget is still fed by its sale, compared with around one-third before the war. The country requires foreign companies to ship the oil internationally. Since the beginning of the Ukraine war, one European country has been profiting particularly well from the dynamic: Greece.

Greek tankers in particular ship the oil from Russia, especially from Russian ports in the Black Sea. Athens has also made sure to defend its business interests at the European Union level — and thus helped water down the sanctions against Russia, to the great dismay of Ukraine.

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"Shortly after the invasion of Ukraine, Greece deliberately relocated its tanker fleet to Russian ports to transport Russian oil," says Robin Brooks, chief economist at the International Finance Federation (IIF).

In a recent analysis, Brooks examined the routes Russian oil takes through the Black Sea. "Other Western shipping companies withdrew, so margins went up, the business became very profitable," he says.

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Drug Dealers' Love For U.S. Postal Service At All-Time High

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Postal Service likes to boast that it is the nation's most trusted government agency.

It certainly has the trust of dope dealers.

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Seeking New Labor Protection For All The World's Ship Workers

Fair trade doesn’t always mean fair transport, as international shipping leaves a whole category of workers unprotected.

SAN FRANCISCO — The world's mariners are protected by what may be the only minimum wage established across an entire global industry. Now, labor advocates are mobilizing to increase their pay and make consumers more aware of working conditions on the ships that move the goods they use every day.

More than 1.6 million seafarers work on international merchant ships around the world, according to the International Chamber of Shipping. Together, these laborers – mostly men from the Philippines, China, Indonesia, the Russian Federation and Ukraine – handle about 90% of global trade and also play a role in preventing marine pollution. But they're a largely invisible workforce.

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Why Global Shipping Industry Must Climb Aboard Paris Climate Pact

Latin American states, as major sea-trading nations that are also vulnerable to climate change, must act now to find ways to curb shipping pollution.


BUENOS AIRES The boom in renewable energy is creating economic opportunities for countries across the world — now, it must also be extended to our oceans.

Shipping is the last major global industry that needs to be brought into the fold on energy transition. If it were a country, its greenhouse gas emissions would be comparable to Germany's and the sixth highest in the world. But in contrast with Germany, sea transportation remains outside the Paris Accords and its emissions may keep rising for decades.

We currently have the option of fighting some of the easier battles, like publishing efficiency data for ships in the market, to help channel private investment toward more efficient vessels. That would save billions of dollars in fuel costs each year and substantially cut the sector's emissions.

Speed limits are another simple way for the sector to curb pollution, and again, save billions in fuel costs. Similarly, decarbonization through greater use of new, wind-power technologies could bring major benefits.

Adopting these practices would require regulatory action and new financial mechanisms, especially for developing countries.

Battery technology is advancing in areas like short circuits and internal navigation, but decarbonizing the entire maritime fleet would require massive investment in low-emission or zero-emission fuels like hydrogen, ammonia, and biofuels.

Adopting these practices would require regulatory action and new financial mechanisms, especially for developing countries.

When an industry spends more than $100 billion a year on fuel, even a 1% tax on petrol purchases could generate substantial funds for research on renewable propulsion technologies while keeping the money inside the sector. Many shipowners would welcome the availability of a massive fund for clean energy innovation, while it could also provide compensations for developing countries hard-pressed to meet the costs of energy transition.

Photo: Andres Perez Moreno/ZUMA

These are countries that need greater access to clean shipping technology. In Latin America, wind and solar energy are growing at a remarkable rate, so why not use some of the excess energy generated to produce hydrogen for ships or charge grid batteries? Why not use existing hydroelectric energy to produce ammonia-based fuels?

The French firm Engie is considering investing in hydrogen production where solar energy is cheapest, and one of the places it has cited is the Atacama desert in Chile, where the company could produce hydrogen on an industrial scale.

Brazil has competitive advantages in biofuels that could help national ethanol producers currently facing difficult times, by expanding the market into marine fuels.

As businesses, shipping firms' decisions on the type of fuel they must use must make financial sense. The price of renewable fuels like hydrogen ultimately depends on the price of the electricity used to produce it, and that is plummeting worldwide — and especially in Latin American markets where renewable energy is potentially abundant.

This requires them to act in unison.

In shipping like other industries, it would be imprudent to base business models on the belief that fossil fuels will remain the cheapest fuel option forever. Many carbon companies have already learned this the hard way, through bankruptcy. As ships tend to last 25 years or so before being scrapped, shipbuilders must now take climate change into account.

Latin American states are both united in their deep dependence on maritime trade and their exposure to the dangers of climate change. This requires them to act in unison. We need to show the same leadership talking about this issue as the Marshall Islands and other Pacific nations, and push just one shipping objective in line with the Paris accords: a 70-100% reduction in greenhouse emissions by 2050.

The only way to do this is through a secure regulatory framework that becomes an incentive to decarbonize the merchant fleet. This month's Marine Environment Protection Committee's meeting in London was a good opportunity to find this common strategy.

I would urge all Latin American nations to act together to send shipping on the sustainable route, for anything less is to jeopardize the Paris climate accord and the health and sustenance of our citizens.

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Kong Lingyu

Why China Is Suddenly So Interested In The Arctic

TROMSO — Officials in China, now the second-largest economy in the world and a major global emitter of greenhouse gasses, now acknowledge that the country is important in the fight against global warming. It and many other Asian nations such as Singapore are also voicing greater concern about environmental changes in the Arctic region, changes they say are beginning to have a major impact back in their own countries.

A group of Chinese officials and scientists visited the Norwegian city of Tromso last month for the Arctic Frontiers conference, where 1,400 government officials, scholars and activists from 30 Arctic and non-Arctic countries gathered to discuss climate change and energy matters related to the Arctic.

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Roberto Giovannini

A Dubious Chinese Link To The Grand Nicaragua Canal

Groundbreaking on the much heralded Central American project is said to be imminent. But huge doubts linger, including the bankrolling of the project by a mysterious Chinese businessman.

MANAGUA — If it actually gets built, the Interoceanic Grand Canal — which would stretch for 278 kilometers between Venado on Nicaragua's Atlantic coast to Puerto Brito on the country's Pacific side — would be the most impressive work of infrastructure in the world.

This gigantic ship canal would be larger than Panama's — 30 meters deep, ranging from 230 to 520 meters wide, and splitting Nicaragua in two. It would pass mountains and go through rivers, and use the great Cocibolca Lake, the largest body of fresh water in Central America, to shorten its course.

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Seven Dead After Ship Crashes Into Genoa Port's Control Tower



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eyes on the U.S.
Sonia Osorio

The Big Winners And Losers Of The Panama Canal Expansion

MIAMI - Throughout the history of the United States, the main divisions have traditionally been between the North and the South, an economic and political rivalry that we know also produced a civil war.

But there is also an important rivalry between the West Coast and the East Coast, a battle for cultural, academic and scientific supremacy, an ongoing contest to attract the best musicians, artists and chefs.

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Sophie Landrin

Toxic Shipping Containers May Be Contaminating Your Food And Clothes

ROTTERDAM - Governments are well aware of the danger, but consumers have no idea. One out of five freight containers arriving in European ports has been fumigated with extremely dangerous, carcinogenic or neurotoxic gases.

It is a vast phenomenon: one million containers filled with imported goods arrive in Europe by ship every week. These toxic substances are odorless, colorless and can affect everyone from port workers, customs officials, logisticians, drivers, warehousemen, store employees and even consumers.

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