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Open Translation

BRUSSELS: Rotterdam is the top port polluter in Europe according to a new study by campaigning NGO Transport & Environment (T&E).

Emitting nearly 13.7 million tonnes of CO2 annually, the Dutch port is on par with Europe’s fifth biggest industrial polluter - the Weisweiler coal power plant in Germany.

Antwerp and Hamburg are second and third on the list at 7.4 million and 4.7 million tonnes respectively. Spain has three ports in the top ten: Algeciras (3.5 million), Barcelona (2.8 million and Valencia (2.7 million tonnes).

The study assessed carbon emissions from ships departing and entering ports from across the supply chain, as well emissions from loading, unloading and refueling.

Notwithstanding the post-COVID shipping rebound that has seen continuing record ocean box carrier profits, between 2012 and 2019 cargo volumes at Rotterdam rose 13 percent.

“The shipping industry is making a killing right now, commented T&E Sustainable Shipping officer Jacob Armstrong. “Ports are at the heart of this and their climate impact is enormous. Yet, 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.”

To address the problem T&E says European policy-makers should:

• Ensure that at least half, ideally, all inbound and outbound shipping emissions are covered by the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS).

• Require all European ports to provide shore-side electricity (SSE) to ships at berth from 2025 at all passenger terminals; from 2030 at all terminals for containerships, tankers and refrigerated-bulk carriers; and from 2035 at all remaining terminals.

• Discontinue the mandate on maritime ports to install LNG infrastructure to avoid stranded assets in fossil fuels.

• Introduce targets for the installation of hydrogen and ammonia refuelling infrastructure in ports, to enable ships to use green e-fuels. ETS revenues should also contribute to funding this infrastructure.

Currently, the European Commission (EC) has proposed 2030 as the deadline for ports to install shore-side electricity for container operators, passenger vessels and cruise lines.

However the exemptions for certain vessels depending on the number of port calls, and complete exclusion for oil tankers and bulk carriers, means the amount they will continue to emit equals the SOx emissions from 250 million fossil-fuel powered cars, says T&E.

“Ports can have a direct impact in greening our planet by providing a clean shipping infrastructure. 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,” added Armstrong.
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