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Inland Navigation’s Eco Potential

Updated: Oct 3, 2020

Though inland navigation accounts ​for only 4% of transportation in the EU, it is responsible

for 13.6% of its CO2 emissions​. In fact, an average ferry boat emits 0.53 kg of CO2 per km per person, while a passenger car emits only 0.11.



Atop of that, inland navigation vessels are not only responsible for greenhouse gas emissions, but sulfate dioxide (SOx) and nitrogen dioxide (NOx) emissions as well. Sulfur, for example, increases the acidity of the ecosystem, whereas ​nitrogen oxides lead to ground-level ozone formation​.


When all of this is taken into account, we begin to understand why inland navigation is underutilized as a form of transportation in the EU. Especially amidst a global climate change crisis that desperately calls for more efficient and sustainable energy sources and technologies.

However, what often fails to be said, is that inland waterway transportation has a great potential for reducing greenhouse gas emissions because it is significantly more energetically efficient (using less energy, meaning less energy waste). Additionally, when electric motors get added to the equation, suddenly a very viable green solution begins to formulate. ​Electric propulsion is completely free from greenhouse gas and other particulate emissions, and due to the design of the batteries and electric motors, a considerable amount of space is saved in comparison to traditional diesel-driven vessels​. Therefore, following in the footsteps of Germany’s Climate Action Programme 2030, with efforts to preserve essential natural resources through cutting transport-related emissions (one of many undertakings), we want to remind you that viable and green solutions exist and that inland navigation can realize its full eco potential and begin to account for more than 4% of EU’s annual transportation services.

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