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Houthi stand on beach after ship attack

Armed men stand on the beach as the Galaxy Leader commercial ship, seized by Yemen's Houthis last month, is anchored off the coast of al-Salif, Yemen, December 5, 2023. REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah

EU Maritime Emissions Surge Amid Red Sea Diversions

Mike Schuler
Total Views: 878
April 19, 2024

New data has revealed a significant increase in the carbon emissions of the European Union’s (EU) marine shipping sector. According to Kayrros, a global leader in emissions tracking, regulated carbon emissions from the sector have risen by 14% year-on-year in the first two months of this year.

As part of the EU Emissions Trading System (EU ETS), marine shipping emissions now fall under regulatory oversight. The regulations apply to half of the emissions from ships entering and leaving the EU and all emissions for voyages within the Union.

The primary cause of the emissions surge appears to be shipping diversions due to Houthi attacks on vessels in the Red Sea. The targeting of vessels since mid-October has prompted many ships to avoid the Red Sea route between Asia and Europe. Instead, ships are taking a detour around South Africa’s Cape of Good Hope, adding up to 3,000 nautical miles to their journey.

Maritime emissions 2024 vs 2023 vs 2022 in Mt/day chart
Maritime emissions 2024 vs 2023 vs 2022 in Mt/day

The rerouting has resulted in significant carbon emissions increases. According to Kayrros, an average container ship emits an additional 900 tons of carbon (+30%) when avoiding the Red Sea. Similarly, a Very Large Crude Carrier travelling from the Middle East Gulf to Northwest Europe produces an extra 1,500 tons of carbon emissions.

The EU’s marine shipping emissions were already on the rise before the Houthi attacks, increasing 5.7% in the first nine months of 2023 compared to the same period in 2022. However, the growth rate has accelerated dramatically since the onset of the attacks, despite the implementation of EU ETS regulations.

Antoine Rostand, President and co-founder of Kayrros, said Red Sea diversions present a real challenge for decarbonization efforts.

“With no end in sight for the reroutes, carbon emissions will continue to remain high. In the absence of clean or cleaner fuel for shipping, this would mean a setback for both the maritime industry and the European Commission’s progress towards net zero, all other things being equal.”

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