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Estimating the emissions potential of marine transportation using the Kra Canal

Tseng, Po-Hsing; Pilcher, Nick


Po-Hsing Tseng


The Panama and Suez canals greatly reduced pollutant emissions from shipping through much reduced sailing distances. Another possible future canal is across the Kra isthmus in Thailand, reducing sailing distances for ships travelling from East Asia to Europe that sail around the Malacca straits. Much literature considers the economic and political viability of the Kra Canal and notes the adverse environmental impact of the canal's construction. Yet, this literature also highlights the decarbonizing potential of the canal through reduced sailing distances and emissions. In this paper we critically consider this potential through the specific type of calculations in the study (ship emissions, etc.) and qualitative data consisting of the perspectives of experts (n = 20) from China (n = 5); Thailand (n = 5); Singapore (n = 5) and Taiwan (n = 5) gathered through semi-structured interviews. This data shows that, in fact, the canal might offer negative decarbonizing and emissions potential. This is due to a number of factors: the shorter reductions in sailing distances it affords compared to the Suez and Panama Canals; the economic models and political requirements to finance it, and; the currently available technologies. Nevertheless, the canal does offer potential for reducing distances and traffic in the Malacca straits if these factors change, and we outline and discuss these changes here.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Nov 24, 2021
Online Publication Date Dec 7, 2021
Publication Date 2022
Deposit Date Dec 7, 2021
Publicly Available Date Dec 7, 2021
Journal Maritime Transport Research
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 3
Pages 100041
Keywords Kra Canal, Decarbonizing, Greening, Shipping
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