Shipping; Illustration

Shipping moving closer to the ‘point of no return’, says T&E

European shipping emissions grew 3% last year as the industry edges closer to pre-pandemic levels, a new analysis by NGO Transport & Environment (T&E) shows.

Illustration; Image by offshore Energy

The analysis says that European shipping emitted over 130 million tonnes of CO2, with cruise ship emissions well up on the year before combined with a high number of vessels transporting LNG that contributed to driving up emissions.

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The NGO used the data from EU MRV reporting by ship operators which was released for 2022 earlier this month.

EU-MRV is an EU regulation on the monitoring, reporting, and verification of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from ships, which first entered into force on 1 July 2015.

Under the rule, ship operators are required to monitor their fuel consumption, operational efficiency, and CO2 emissions during voyages to and from EU ports. These reports must be verified by an independent third party before being submitted to the European Commission.

The analysis allocated containership emissions reported under the MRV regulation to container shipping operators based on whether they owned and/or operated those ships in 2022. A similar aggregation exercise was also performed for the major cruise operating groups.

Image credit T&E

Cargo ships were responsible for the bulk of emissions, the analysis shows. MSC, the world’s largest shipping company, emerged as the continent’s biggest carbon emitter with nearly 10 million tonnes of CO2 last year making it Europe’s 11th biggest polluter. MSC was followed by CMA CGM, Maersk, COSCO, and Hapag-Lloyd in the list of shipping emitters, the analysis said.

Image credit T&E

“Carbon emissions are at a three year high as shipping companies continue to go all guns blazing. Europe’s shipping giants are up there with coal plants and airlines as the continent’s biggest polluters. But while everyone has heard of Ryanair, the average person doesn’t even know who MSC is. Without stricter regulations, shipping companies will continue to spurn investments in efficiency and green fuels. The industry is quickly moving to a point of no return,” Jacob Armstrong, shipping manager at T&E, said.

Cruise ship emissions in 2022 were almost double what they were last year after a year of disruptions to international travel, the analysis said. MSC Grandiosa has been identified as the most polluting ship last year, with over 130,000 tonnes of CO2 emitted – the same as a small town.

The major cargo shipping trend in 2022 was the increased volume of liquified natural gas (LNG) shipments, which grew 58% last year. As Europe ramped up sanctions on Russian oil, Europe’s import push for LNG drove a massive increase in seaborne emissions. The analysis said that pollution from LNG carriers doubled since 2018.

Image credit T&E

Finally, carbon pollution (along with SOx, NOx and PM 2.5) at ports increased slightly in 2022. However, the NGO believes that this could be easily fixed by greater shore-side electrification.

The analysis paints a rather disappointing picture with regard to the current state of affairs within the sector, especially for the container shipping sector in a year that delivered record profits for industry majors.

It also serves as a warning sign for the industry that the time has come for the acceleration of investments in greener fuels and emission reduction.