Europe’s Shipping Emissions Up To 3 Years High As Industry Returns To Pre-Pandemic Levels

Europe’s shipping CO2 emissions went up to 3% to a three-year high last year as the industry edged nearer to the pre-pandemic level of activity, with container and other cargo vessels forming the lion’s share of shipping emissions, an analysis conducted by the Transport & Environment (T&E) reflects.

T&E mentioned that vessels visiting European ports in 2022 produced nearly 130 million tons of carbon dioxide (CO2). The report said a much-awaited revival in leisure travel further increased cruise vessel emissions from the 2021 levels to six million tons in 2022.


The highlighting cargo shipping trend in 2022 was the increased volume of LNG shipments, which increased by 58%. As Europe kept ramping up the sanctions on Russia’s oil, Europe’s import push for an LNG drove a significant increase in seaborne emissions, mentioned T&E, the continent’s top clean transport campaign group.

Carbon emissions are now at a three-year high as shipping firms go guns blazing. Europe’s shipping majors are up there with airlines and coal plants as the continent’s largest polluters, stated Jacob Armstrong, shipping manager associated with T&E.

MSC, the largest ocean liner company in the world, got the most blame as Europe’s overall shipping CO2 emissions increased. The Switzerland-based major was able to pump out almost 10.2 million tons of CO2 last year, making it Europe’s eleventh largest polluter across industries, including coal plants and airlines, per T&E.

MSC was followed by the France-based major, CMA CGM, at about 5.5 million tons of CO2 emission, Maersk (Denmark) at about 5.2 million tons, China-based COSCO at 3.8 million tons, and Hapag-Lloyd (Germany) at approximately 3.3 million tons on the list of shipping emitters. Of the five major air polluters, the only non-European major was COSCO.

Armstrong said shipping firms would keep spurning investments in efficiency and green fuels without stricter regulations. Armstrong noted that The industry is quickly moving to the point of no return.

Maersk and CMA CGM, along with other leading ocean container carriers, have ordered dozens of green methanol-fueled ships to be part of their fleets from early 2024 onward. COSCO’s OOCL has ordered its dual-fuel methanol vessels, while the Korean ocean liner, the HMM, boasts nine methanol-fueled container vessels constructed by two South Korean shipyards.

The analysis reflected that cruise vessel emissions in 2022 almost doubled from 2021 levels following a year of disruptions to international travel. The most polluting vessel of 2022 was the MSC Grandiosa, which was single-handedly responsible for more than 130,000 tons of CO2 — the same as a small town’s emission would have.

Inadequate port electrification is partially to blame for the rising shipping emissions, per the T&E report. It mentioned that carbon pollution – along with nitrogen oxide (NOx), sulfur oxide (SOx), and suspended particulate matter (PM 2.5) at the ports went up slightly last year. This can be fixed by greater shore-side electrification, the report mentioned.

Without more stringent regulations, shipping firms will continue spurning investments in efficiency and green fuels. Monitoring European shipping emissions will ensure that shipping firms are held accountable, per T&E.

Reference: S&P Global, Port Calls, Transport Environment

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