Shipping emissions: latest data

Official EU reporting shows that Europe’s shipping emissions are now higher than before the pandemic. Cargo and container ships make up the lion’s share of shipping emissions, but LNG-carriers and cruise ships are the main drivers of increased emissions.

Shipping emissions at all time high

European shipping emissions grew 3% in 2022 as the industry nudges closer to pre-pandemic levels. Even when the global economy isn’t running very hot, European shipping still emitted over 135 million tonnes of CO2.

More ships than ever before

The number of ships stopping at European ports grew significantly in 2022.

MSC leads the way

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.

Return of the cruise

Cruise ship emissions in 2022 more than double what they were last year after a year of disruptions to international travel.

MSC Grandiosa

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. Grand by name, grand by nature.

Breakdown of ship types

The major cargo shipping trend in 2022 was the increased volume of liquified natural gas (LNG) shipments, which grew 60% last year. As Europe ramped up sanctions on Russian oil, Europe’s import push for LNG drove a massive increase in seaborne emissions.

Not enough electrification at ports

Carbon pollution (along with SOx, NOx and PM 2.5) at ports increased slightly in 2022. This could be easily be fixed by greater shore-side electrification.

Without stricter regulations, shipping companies will continue to spurn investments in efficiency and green fuels. We will continue to monitor European shipping emissions to make sure shipping companies are held to account.