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Project Drawdown


9th, 10th, 11th, 12th, AP® / College


Science, Mathematics, Engineering

Resource Types

  • Article
  • Data

Regional Focus


Efficient Ocean Shipping

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  • This article assesses ocean shipping efficiency as a climate solution, determining that reducing fuel use through slower navigation and various other methods can be an effective and sustainable solution for reducing greenhouse gas levels.
  • This report provides quantitative data and evidence to analyze the fuel savings, carbon emission reduction, initial cost, and eventual savings of implementing increased shipping efficiency measures.
Teaching Tips


  • This reading will support learners in developing their scientific literacy as they read a technical text with domain-specific vocabulary, multiple units of measurement, and a concise tone.
  • The article encourages students to analyze a climate solution's initial costs and investment compared to the eventual financial and environmental benefits after implementation.
  • The article includes an excellent visual of global shipping routes, robust data, evidence, and citations to support the stated claims.

Additional Prerequisites

  • Learners should be familiar with gigaton, the unit used to measure carbon emissions.
  • Learners should understand fuel efficiency, operating costs, and international commerce.
  • Use this interactive table of solutions to show students the rankings of solutions by scenario on the Drawdown website and make it easier to understand the relative impact of ocean shipping efficiency.


  • The information in this article provides the opportunity for interdisciplinary study in engineering and economics by quantifying the different models' economic costs, benefits, and environmental results of increasing ocean shipping efficiency.
  • To investigate other climate solutions related to transportation, check out the articles on efficient trucks and hybrid cars.
  • Consider having students discuss any potential social and economic barriers to increased ocean shipping efficiency (such as longer shipping times and substantial capital investment) and talk critically about the viability of this solution.
  • As an extension, students could investigate the fuel use and efficiency of shipping items via airlines and discuss which products and companies use those shipping methods.
Scientist Notes
This report introduces a solution to reducing emissions by making ocean shipping more efficient. The article includes a brief introduction to emissions reduction by reducing the emissions of transport ships with technology that can reduce fuel use. The article provides the methodology, scenarios, models, results, and a discussion concerning the feasibility of making shipping more efficient. This resource is a relevant addition to a lesson discussing alternative methods for reducing carbon emissions. This resource is recommended for teaching.

This resource addresses the listed standards. To fully meet standards, search for more related resources.

  • English Language Arts
    • Reading: Informational Text (K-12)
      • RI.11-12.4 Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative, connotative, and technical meanings; analyze how an author uses and refines the meaning of a key term or terms over the course of a text (e.g., how Madison defines faction in Federalist No. 10).
    • Reading: Science & Technical Subjects (6-12)
      • RST.11-12.8 Evaluate the hypotheses, data, analysis, and conclusions in a science or technical text, verifying the data when possible and corroborating or challenging conclusions with other sources of information.
  • Mathematics
    • Statistics & Probability: Using Probability to Make Decisions (9-12)
      • HSS.MD.B.5 Weigh the possible outcomes of a decision by assigning probabilities to payoff values and finding expected values.
  • Science
    • ESS3: Earth and Human Activity
      • HS-ESS3-2. Evaluate competing design solutions for developing, managing, and utilizing energy and mineral resources based on cost-benefit ratios.
      • HS-ESS3-4. Evaluate or refine a technological solution that reduces impacts of human activities on natural systems.
    • ETS1: Engineering Design
      • HS-ETS1-1. Analyze a major global challenge to specify qualitative and quantitative criteria and constraints for solutions that account for societal needs and wants.
      • HS-ETS1-3. Evaluate a solution to a complex real-world problem based on prioritized criteria and trade-offs that account for a range of constraints, including cost, safety, reliability, and aesthetics, as well as possible social, cultural, and environmental impacts.
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