Profits uncontained: An analysis of container shipping ETS surcharges

March 26, 2024

The world's first carbon market for shipping came into force at the beginning of this year. T&E assesses how shipping companies have externalised the costs

The world’s first carbon market for shipping, the EU shipping ETS, entered into force on 1 January 2024. Initially, shipowners will purchase emission allowances for 40% of their emissions, increasing to 70% in 2025 and 100% in 2026. In response, the largest shipping companies – all specialised in transporting containers – announced that they would pass on the ETS costs to their customers in the form of surcharges.

In order to compare each company’s expected ETS costs to the announced surcharges, T&E analysed over 560 single journeys from 20 ships of each of the four big EU shipping companies: MSC, Maersk, Hapag-Lloyd and CMA CGM. T&E  finds that European container shipping companies are likely to make significant windfall profits by setting these surcharges higher than their ETS costs.


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