Press Release

Europe’s shipping emissions up to three year high

July 13, 2023

Cargo and container ships make up the lion’s share of shipping emissions, but LNG-carriers and cruise ships main driver of increased emissions

European shipping emissions grew 3% last year as the industry edges closer to pre-pandemic levels, new Transport & Environment (T&E) analysis shows. Cruise ship emissions were well up on the year before while a high number of vessels transporting LNG contributed to driving up emissions. The industry is moving closer to the point of no return, says T&E.

Jacob Armstrong, shipping manager at T&E, said: “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.”

Last year, ships visiting European ports emitted nearly 130 million tonnes of CO2. Cargo ships were responsible for the bulk of emissions. MSC, the world’s largest shipping company, was the continent’s biggest carbon emitter. The Swiss-based giant pumped out 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.

Cruise ship emissions in 2022 were almost double what they were last year after a year of disruptions to international travel. The most polluting ship last year was the MSC Grandiosa, which alone was responsible for over 130,000 tonnes of CO2 – 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.


View latest emissions data

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