Maritime transport emissions must be cut sharply, EU agency says

In 2019, maritime transport to and within the EU accounted for 13.5% of transport-related emissions on the continent, the EMSA said in a report. [GreenOak / Shutterstock]

Maritime transport emissions must be drastically cut further if the European Union hopes to become carbon neutral by 2050, the European Maritime Safety Agency warned Wednesday (1 September).

In 2019, maritime transport to and within the EU accounted for 13.5% of transport-related emissions on the continent, the EMSA said in a report.

Nearly 77% of European external trade and 35% of all trade among EU member states occurs on maritime routes, it said.

Though EU carbon dioxide emissions stemming from navigation have dropped by around 26% from 1990, they still account for around 16 million tonnes, or 18% of global maritime emissions, the report said.

It attributed the decrease to fleet renewals and greater energy efficiency.

“Continued action to reduce its environmental footprint is needed for the (maritime) sector to play its part in turning Europe into a climate-neutral continent by 2050,” the EMSA said.

Further action is also needed toward “meeting our zero pollution ambition and halting and reversing biodiversity loss,” it added.

Emissions of sulfur dioxide, another dangerous global warming and acidic gas, amounted to 1.63 million tonnes in 2019, or 16% of global emissions from maritime transport.

The report said these emissions decreased owing to stricter European legislation against sulfur dioxide in fuel, allowing for a 60% reduction along the Danish coast and more than 20% in the area of the Dutch port of Rotterdam between 2015 and 2019.

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