Emissions from european shipping on the rise again

Last week, the focus of the whole shipping sector was aimed at the IMO’s Marine Environment Protection Committee meeting that ended July 7, 2023. After much debate, IMO has adopted a revised strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net-zero, by or around 2050.

This is a significant acceleration in the reduction of emissions compared to the strategy agreed only 5 years ago which required a 50% reduction by 2050 compared to 2008 levels.

This means that, when implemented, shipping is much closer to alignment with the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement target of keeping global temperatures below 1.5 degrees Celsius of pre-industrial levels. In addition there are targets for carbon emissions reduction at indicative checkpoints of 20% by 2030 and 70% by 2040, compared to 2008 levels.

While We4Sea is supporting the new goals, we believe that now is the time to act.  Recent emission data shows that we need to step up to the challenge as an industry. Being a data-driven company, we have looked at the 2022 ship emission data reported recently by the european commission.

Emissions of shipping are on the rise

Despite all efforts, European shipping emissions grew with 3,4% in 2022, according to 2022 data collected under European (EU-MRV) legislation. This means we are reaching pre-pandemic levels.

In total, European shipping emitted over 128 million tonnes of CO2 in 2022. These emissions included all monitored EU voyages, meaning all trips to and from European (EEA) ports.

Total reported shipping emissions in 2022

It should be noted that 2020 and 2019 both included UK related emissions. The drop in 2020 is explained by COVID-19, which impacted mainly passenger (cruise) vessels who are big emitters. Now that these vessels are sailing again, emissions are on the rise. Let's take a closer look at the data that was reported.

In 2022, 12.211 ships reported their emissions. Most of these vessels (31%) are bulk carriers, followed by container ships and oil tankers (15%).

Distribution of ships types

While bulkers (3820 ships) are highest innumber of ships, the majority of emissions (28.9%) originate from container ships, followed by bulk carriers and oil tankers. These three vessel types emit almost 55% of all emissions.

Expressed in terms of fuel consumption, the monitored ships consumed 41.4 million tonnes of fuel in 2022. Passenger ships are leading in absolute annual consumption, with 6 passengervessels and 4 Ro-Pax in the top 10 of biggest consumers. These vessels also reported the highest time at sea.

Time spent at sea

Of all vessels, the passenger vessel MSC Grandiosa holds the record, burning 42,759 MT of fuel in 2022, or 171 MT per sailing day. The CO2 emissions amount to 133,812 tonnes.

Start today

Unfortunately, we see a significant increase in european shipping emissions in 2022. Despite all efforts since the initial IMO strategy of 2018, we are moving in the wrong way.

A significant acceleration in the reduction of emissions is needed if we really want to meet the first intermediate target of 20% carbon emissions reduction by 2030.

We need to start today.

* Above analysis is based on data collection under Regulation (EU) 2015/757 on the monitoring, reporting and verification of CO2 emissions from maritime transport, version 13 July 2023. Raw data can be found here.