With 14 million tonnes of CO2 emissions per year, Rotterdam is the European port that pollutes the most, according to Transport & Environment in their study on how much climate impact port activities have.
In the top 10 there is also Antwerp, ranking second, with 7.4 million tonnes of carbon dioxide, and Hamburg, third, with 4.7 million tonnes of CO2 emissions. They are followed by Algeciras (3.3 m); Barcelona (2.8 million); Piraeus (2.7 m); Valencia (2.7 m); Bremerhaven (2.3 m); Marseille (2.3 m); Amsterdam (2.1 m).
The report points out that the port of Rotterdam pollutes as much as Europe’s fifth worst industrial polluter: the coal-fired power plant in Weisweiler, Germany.
The researchers explain how ports are handling more and more goods these days. Between 2012 and 2019, for example, Rotterdam’s volumes rose by 13%. In the post-Covid period there has been even a further increase in the amount of cargo moved along the main trade routes.
According to Jacob Armstrong, head of sustainable shipping at T&E, “The shipping industry is making a killing right now. Ports are at the heart of this, and their climate impact is enormous. Yet instead of getting behind proposals to clean up shipping, such as comprehensive port electrification and mandates for green fuels, ports are not doing enough to clean up the sector.”
Mr. Armstrong calls on ports to install hydrogen refueling infrastructure and shore-side electrification facilities so that ships can shut down their engines while in port. He said that doing this would improve people’s health by reducing air pollution.
Translation by Giles Foster