As the European Union prepares to launch its carbon trading schemes for the maritime industry, NGO Transportation & Environment is calling for a greater focus on the role ports play in carbon emissions and using revenues from the Emissions Trading Scheme to aid with clean fuel infrastructure in ports.  In a newly issued report, the NGO is ranking Europe’s ports by carbon emissions seeking to put the spotlight on ports to do more to address the environmental issues.

The study, carried out by T&E, assesses carbon emissions from ships departing and entering ports from across the supply chain, as well emissions from activities at port like loading, unloading, and refueling. As Europe’s busiest port, Rotterdam tops the list with T&E saying that the port is associated with almost 14 million tons of CO2 each year, putting it on a par with other large emitters such as the Weisweiler coal power plant in Germany, which T&E ranks as Europe’s fifth biggest industrial polluter. Antwerp and Hamburg come in second and third in T&E’s ranking, while three of the top 10 ports for CO2 emissions according to the report are in Spain.

The shipping industry is a fast-growing emitter says the NGO while asserting that Europe’s ports have been reluctant to back mandates for clean fuels. In a year of bumper profits for the industry, T&E calls on ports to get behind EU-wide efforts to reduce shipping’s climate impact.

“Ports can have a direct impact in greening our planet by providing clean shipping infrastructure,” said Jacob Armstrong sustainable shipping officer at T&E. “This means installing hydrogen-based refueling infrastructure and shore-side electrification that would allow ships to turn off their engines and plug-in at port. Instead of getting behind proposals to clean up shipping, like comprehensive port electrification and mandates for green fuels, ports simply aren’t doing enough to clean up the sector.”

The report also looks at the emissions from port activities like loading, unloading, and refueling. Alongside CO2, T&E highlights the emissions of nitrogen oxide (NOx) and sulfur dioxide (SOx). Rotterdam, again as the largest port, again tops the T&E list with the NGO pointing out that oil tankers, which have been slower to adopt new emissions technologies, account for the largest proportion of emissions at the ports in Rotterdam and Amsterdam. Other ports including Antwerp, Piraeus, Barcelona, and Hamburg are also highlighted. 

T&E calls for the ports to drop their stance against stricter targets for shore-side electrification and targets such as those for segments of the shipping industry including oil tankers and bulk carriers. The NGO says that the European Commission can also help ports by directing revenues from the proposed carbon market ETS to aid with clean fuel infrastructure in ports.

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