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European shipping emissions highest in three years

15 August 2023

During 2022, emissions from European shipping increased further by 3 percent. The industry is approaching the emission levels it had before the pandemic, according to a new analysis.

Despite the fact that the global economy is not particularly hot, European shipping emits over 130 million tons of carbon dioxide, says the environmental organization Transport & Environment (T&E) in its latest analysis of shipping emissions.

It is of course the cargo ships that emit the most and MSC, the world's largest shipping company, is also the industry's largest emitter. The Swiss giant pumped out almost 10 million tonnes of carbon dioxide last year, making it Europe's eleventh biggest polluter. MSC was followed by CMA CGM (5.5 MtCO2) and Maersk (5.2 MtCO2).

”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, commented Jacob Armstrong, director of shipping at T&E, when the analysis was released in July.

Although cargo ships are emitting more, it was emissions from cruise ships that increased the most in 2022 – it was almost doubled after the last years disruption in the international travel industry. The most polluting ship last year was the cruise ship MSC Grandiosa, which alone accounted for over 130,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions, which according to T&E is as much as a small city.

The analysis also draws attention to the LNG boom. Last year, the use of liquefied natural gas increased by 58 percent, which T&E believes is partly related to the sanctions against Russian oil. Pollution from LNG ships has doubled since 2018, states A&E. On the other hand, LNG ships emit less carbon dioxide than ships that run on conventional marine fuel.

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