2021-04-22

LONDON - The shipping industry is central to the global economy. But among the world's biggest polluters and tax avoiders. Its emissions, from the dirtiest fuel-oil on earth, are larger than those of Germany, and have a serious impact on climate change.

The fumes, mostly from container, tanker and cruise ships, are responsible for more than 50,000 deaths a year in Europe, and many times more globally. Most occur in Europe's port towns. The industry is also afforded huge subsidies, saving billions through preferential tax arrangements offered by European countries. Despite its devastating emissions and its tax benefits, however, shipping has managed to escape inclusion in global climate change initiatives, like the Kyoto and Paris agreements.

It is instead ruled by one entity: the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), a division of the United Nations. Yet critics say it has been captured by the industry.

A team of journalists wanted to know the answer to one question. In the age of the climate crisis, are the shipping industry and IMO serious in their efforts to reduce emissions? Over the course of one year, the production travelled to Portugal, Greece, Italy, Switzerland, UK, France, and the Arctic to interview dozens of climate activists, experts, politicians, lobby groups, shipowners and health professionals.

Black Trail was selected to be shown in Sustainable Living Film Festival 2021. It was subtitled in Turkish and was available to a majority Turkish audience in December 2021. 

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The investigative journalist of Expresso Micael Pereira won the 1st prize for 'Journalism for Sustainability' with the work entitled 'Black Trail', in the Digital Category. The documentary 'Black Trail', in an unprecedented co-production format, had the contribution of a dozen journalists from different nationalities who followed the trail of pollution from the shipping industry in several European port cities and the impact of emissions from ships on global warming.

Black Trail is a cross-border documentary and written project by journalists at the The Black Sea (theblacksea.eu) and Expresso, Reporters United (Greece), RTS (Switzerland) and VG (Norway), co-produced by SIC TV (Portugal), with research support from Financed Uncovered (UK).

Photo image: Alexia Barakou

Team members

Craig Shaw

Craig Shaw is a British (based in Romania) journalist specialising in corruption, human rights, and cross-border investigations.

Zeynep Sentek

Zeynep Sentek is a Turkish journalist specialising in investigations, human rights, workers' rights, financial corruption, and the environment.

Nikolas Leontopoulos

Nikolas Leontopoulos is a Greek journalist based in Athens. 

Micael Pereira

Micael Pereira is a senior reporter and investigative journalist at the leading Portuguese newspaper Expresso. 

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