The European Investigative Journalism Conference

Black Trail – How shipping pollutes the planet and gets away with it

Register for the session here

Objectives to fight the climate crisis are clear: global emissions need to be reduced, across countries and sectors. The shipping industry’s emissions are larger than those of Germany, they seriously impact our climate and they are continuing to rise. The industry is also awarded huge subsidies, saving billions through preferential tax arrangements offered by European countries.

Craig Shaw,  Nikolas Leontopoulos and Zeynep Sentek wanted to know if the shipping industry and IMO – the International Maritime Organisation, a division of the United Nations – are serious in their efforts to reduce emissions.

They and their team travelled to different European countries, interviewed climate activists, experts, politicians, lobby groups, shipowners and health professionals.  They’ll present us their findings and their methodology. You should also check out their documentary.

Olaf Merk who leads leads the work on ports and shipping at the International Transport Forum (ITF) of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) will also join the panel to share his work about shipping’s tax evasion. Merk collected financial records of around one hundred major shipping companies, hoping to “put a number on” the industries’ tax burden.

“On average, the tax rate of the shipping industry is around 7 percent of their profits, which is well below the average OECD rate for corporate tax income, which is around 24% (…)  For example, concerning the cruise sector, we found out that on average their tax rate is 0%,” Merk stated.