Sinking shipping is stupid

Written By: - Date published: 10:18 am, March 26th, 2009 - 9 comments
Categories: climate change, economy, national/act government, transport - Tags: , ,

Toad’s post on coastal shipping deserves re-posting:

Coastal shipping is the most energy efficient means of moving freight. A ship consumes 75 – 80 percent less fuel than a truck per tonne hauled. It’s just got to be the way to go.

The United States finally seems to be seeing this. A Bill before the US Congress, the Marine Highway Bill spearheaded by Stas Margaronis, president of Santa Maria Shipowning & Trading, proposes Congress to allocate $50 million a year for five years to finance federal loan guarantees sufficient to build a fleet of 66 ships to ply the Atlantic, Pacific and Gulf coasts.

With 300 53-foot containers each, the coastal ships will remove 20,000 truckloads daily off coastal US highways – yes 20,000 truckloads daily! The removal of the trucks will relieve traffic congestion and reduce maintenance, repair and upgrades needed to accommodate those large trucks.

And the project will create 20,000 jobs. It’s an ideal Green New Deal project to stimulate the economy at the same time as reducing greenhouse gas emissions and reducing dependence on oil.

This sort of project would work well in New Zealand too, as we are an island nation where every city has or is close to a port. It is the kind of proposal we should expect to see in the amended Government Policy Statement on Land Transport Funding (for some strange reason, coastal shipping is officially categorised as land transport).

Sadly, it seems this is not to be. Sue Bradford took a look at the draft Government Policy Statement this morning, only to discover that funding for domestic sea freight development had been slashed by $27m to just $3m over the next 3 years.

I find the shortsightedness of National’s roads, roads and more roads approach impossible to fathom. It defies all logic, and raises suspicions that they have been bought by the road transport lobby.

Proposed ratios of spending on roads to alternatives to roads under the document blow out to a maximum of $9 : $1!

But it’s not too late to have your say. You have a week. Get the submissions on the stupidity of this draft policy statement rolling in to gps@transport.govt.nz before 5pm on Thursday 2 April.

On the second page, the Maritime Union’s very long but excellent press release:

Pages: 1 2

9 comments on “Sinking shipping is stupid”

  1. Paul 1

    particularly relevant given this article in the ODT today

  2. Graeme 2

    Isn’t the major reason the last government was committed to coastal shipping that Peter Brown was in the merchant navy and got it added to NZF’s confidence and supply agreement?

    • Matthew Pilott 2.1

      I couldn’t tell you – the last GPS included an increase from 15% to 30% for sea freight though, so perhaps that’s what you were referring to. I don’t know from whence that target originated; either way, that was the target, and now it’s probably 5%.

    • Graeme 2.2

      Pretty much. Although looking into it further, I believe it may have been a budget-related matter, rather than the confidence agreement.

  3. DavidW 3

    UUmmmmm 20,000 jobs gained; 20,000 truckloads per day lost sounds like a zero sum game to me in a country where a truckload will take several days to get to where it is going which implies a truckdriver and his truck.

    Why would you bother?

    • Draco T Bastard 3.1

      Because the shipping is far more efficient than the trucking making the economy better off, ie, there would be more wealth available to do stuff.

  4. Kevin Welsh 4

    Look who the biggest cheerleader is for truck transport, one Tony Friedlander.

  5. Snail 5

    Toad wrote — I find the shortsightedness of National’s roads, roads and more roads approach impossible to fathom. It defies all logic, and raises suspicions that they have been bought by the road transport lobby.

    A bright fellow(/ess) who otherwise suggests to me rhetorical flourish above..

    Yes, suspicion is one thing. Though just as bond buyers in the back office back wouldbe investors in the front office then might we not ask for whom the backstory of road transportation serves.

    In the newly coined PM-speak whose ends are served at the end of this dark rainbow? Further, who and how might today’s deciders become tomorrow’s providers..

  6. The US of course shuts own more efficient foreign shippers who could easily transport cargo domestically on the ships that ply the coast currently with imports and exports and spare space. Hardly a green move in the US at all, when removing protectionism would do far far more good.

    The Maritime Union has successfully killed off the NZ shipping industry over the past few decades by ensuring that foreign owned shipping lines are far more competitive than their own featherbedded conditions. The biggest competitor on domestic freight routes is rail though. Coastal shipping is predominantly competitive on bulk commodities and long haul container freight, which is exactly the strengths of rail.

    So are you going to subsidise rail and shipping at the same time, or accept that the shipping industry should stand on its own feet, and those using the roads shouldn’t subsidise it. If rail could be financially self supporting, then shipping might get a fair deal, but subsidising rail will damage shipping more than road freight.

    That’s the banality behind the nonsense of subsidising modes that primarily compete!

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