Rotterdam port most polluting in Europe; Antwerp is second worst
Sea shipping in the port of Rotterdam emits at least 13.7 million tons of carbon dioxide each year, making Rotterdam by far the most polluting seaport in Europe. The shipping-related emissions in Rotterdam are comparable to roughly four times the CO2 emissions of a coal-fired power station, environmental organization Transport & Environment (T&E) said in a study published on Wednesday, NRC reports.
Antwerp is the second most polluting port in Europe, with 7.4 million tons of shipping-related CO2 emissions per year. Hamburg comes in third place with 4.7 million tons, and Algeciras in Spain in fourth at 3.3 million tons. Amsterdam is in tenth place with 2.1 million tons.
For its study, T&E combined European emission data by ship type with Eurostat data on the cargo and passengers handled by the ports. The most recent data available is from 2019 and 2018, respectively. Since then, traffic has increased in most ports. This only involves CO2 emissions from shipping to the ports, including emissions on the shipping routes and during the stay at the port for loading, unloading, and refueling. Industry-related emissions from oil refineries and power stations at the ports are not included.
T&E hopes that the study will stimulate the debate about European ports' climate impact. The environmental organization wants the European Union to quickly introduce stricter climate measures on the maritime sector. For example, ports should speed up the implementation of "green shore power," with which cruise ships and freighters can "plug in" ashore and no longer need to run diesel to generate power on board while moored. In June last year, the ports in Rotterdam, Antwerp, Hamburg, Bremen, and Le Havre said they planned to provide large container ships with shore power by 2028, according to NRC.
"Rotterdam is the largest port in Europe with almost 30,000 seagoing vessels per year," a spokesperson for the Port of Rotterdam Authority said to NRC. "It is therefore logical that CO2 emissions from shipping are also the largest." The port investigated how emissions from logistics chains can be reduced in 2017 and has since been working on doing just that, the spokesperson said. "For example, next month, we will start using a large shore power installation in the Caland Canal."
According to the spokesperson, only 3 percent of emissions in the chain happen in the port. 87 percent are emitted at sea, and 10 percent in hinterland transport. "The gains are mainly in tackling emissions at sea with, among other things, cleaner fuels such as methanol and bio-LNG."