Annual Report on CO2 Emissions from Maritime Transport

The European Commission has published its first annual report on CO2 emissions from maritime transport. The report analyses the COemissions and energy efficiency information of all the ships over 5,000 gross tonnage related to the European Economic Area (EEA).

Shipping is one of the most energy-efficient modes of transport. It is also an essential part of the EU economy, and the European maritime technology sector produces around half of the world’s marine equipment each year. The EU shipping industry directly employs around 640,000 people and almost 2.1 million when including the whole supply chain.

The Annual Report on CO2 Emissions from Maritime Transport shows that maritime transport accounts for 3.7% of total EU CO2 emission. Around two-thirds are related to voyages to or from a port outside the EEA, while voyages inside the EEA represented only 32% of total CO2 emissions. The study also shows that emissions from ships in EEA ports stood for 6% of total emissions. Container ships represents the largest share of total emissions with 30%, while bulkers accounts for 13%.

Technical energy efficiency

When it comes to operational energy efficiency, most monitored ships built after 2015 already comply with energy efficiency standards applicable over the period 2020-2025. This is mainly related to the fact that the monitored fleet is relatively young. In addition, the vast majority of ships have reduced their speed compared to 2008, which saves energy and fuel, and significantly reduce emissions. In fact, a 10% reduction in speed could reduce CO2 emissions by around 20%.

Increased efforts are needed to avoid an increase in emissions

According to the International Maritime Organization (IMO), emissions from international shipping could grow between 50 percent and 250 percent by 2050 mainly due to the growth of the world maritime trade.This could possibly offset the expected emission reduction from improvements in ships’ energy efficiency, and reinforces the need for CO2 reduction efforts. The report underlines that emission reductions first will need to come from the deployment of mature energy efficiency technologies and operational practices. In the medium- and long-term, the shipping sector will have to shift from fossil-based marine fuels to alternative fuels, renewable energy sources, and hybrid technologies that are both environmentally sustainable and economically viable. The effectiveness of these measures will depend on several factors, such as costs, availability, maturity, reliability and level of environmental sustainability. The report also states that successful deployment of the various measures will require proper regulatory and non-regulatory incentives, in addition to R&I and an investment-friendly environment.

The report based on emissions data from 2018, reported by companies under the EU Regulation on monitoring, reporting and verification (MRV) of COemissions from maritime transport. 

By Anna Lygre Solvang