The Global Maritime Trends 2050 Report, commissioned by Lloyd’s Register, revealed that some of the world’s largest ports could become unusable due to rising sea levels. According to the study, efforts to decarbonize the maritime shipping sector and introduce new technologies will be crucial.
Weather-related disruptions are already impacting ports across the globe. These include a drought, hampering operations in the Panama Canal, a top waterway.
Impact of climate change
One-third of the world’s 3 800 ports are located in a tropical zone, vulnerable to the most substantial impacts of climate change. For instance, the ports of Shanghai, Houston, and Lazaro Cardenas in Mexico could become unusable by 2050 with only 40 centimeters of sea level rise.
However, the report shows that other key ports, including Rotterdam in the Netherlands, are already under pressure. The Port of Antwerp in Belgium, further inland in Belgium is not specifically mentioned to be threatened also.
Susceptible to sea-level rise
Lloyd Register’s spokesperson said ports highly susceptible to sea-level rises, such as Shanghai, could establish flood defense systems similar to Holland’s Maeslant Barrier and London’s Thames Barrier. This would be more efficient and less expensive than constantly raising existing floodwalls every decade.
Shipping is responsible for almost 3% of global CO2 emissions. The sea level has been rising more and more rapidly over the last 25 years, and scientists expect it to continue to rise.