Shipping in Europe: Pollution Rises by 3%

Studies by environmentalists in the field of transport and environment: “Shipowners, coal-fired power plants, and airlines are the biggest polluters in Europe.”

In 2022, pollution caused by shipping in Europe increased by three percent. According to a recent study by the European Federation for Transport and the Environment, an independent European environmental organization (Transport & Environment, T&E) entitled “Shipping Emissions: Latest Data”, last year, CO2 emissions from ships in the European region amounted to 128.2 million tons, almost reaching the levels of pre-pandemic 2019, when emissions of 133.7 million tons of carbon dioxide were recorded.

T&E experts believe that in 2022, Europe recorded the largest amount of CO2 emissions into the atmosphere in the last three years. The blame for pollution mostly lies on the increase in liquefied natural gas (LNG) shipments. Emissions from container ships and cruise lines are also on the rise.

T&E researchers are pointing an accusatory finger at some of the big ship owners in Europe and the world: cargo ships of the Swiss group MSC in 2022 “produced” emissions of 10 million tons of CO2 (11th largest pollutant in Europe). Next is the French CNA CGM with the release of 5.5 million tons of CO2 into the European atmosphere, followed by the Danish Maersk (5.2 million tons), the Chinese Cosco (3.8 million), and the German Hapag-Lloyd (3.3 million).

“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,” writes the report of European environmentalists.

In addition to cargo ships, carbon dioxide emissions keep increasing every year because of cruise ships and nearly doubled in 2022, compared to 2021 – a year when tourism was still suffering from the negative effects of the pandemic. The most polluting cruise ship, according to a T&E study, was MSC Grandiosa, which alone “produced” more than 130,000 tons of CO2 last year, an amount comparable to the emissions of a small European city.

Jacob Armstrong, T&E’s lead shipping analyst, believes that “carbon emissions in 2022 reached their highest point in three years, because shipowners began operating at full capacity, while shipping companies, along with coal-fired power plants and airlines, were among the biggest polluters on the European continent.”

“Everyone has heard of Ryanair, but the average European has no idea what the MSC Group is,” Armstrong said, according to whom “without stricter rules, transport companies will continue to neglect investment in green and clean fuel.”