Christmas gifts pollution risk highlighted in new emissions list

christmas gifts pollution
© iStock/ TopStep2005

The carbon footprint of Europe’s Christmas gifts has raised concern as official emissions data places a shipping company in the EU’s top 10 pollution offenders.

The Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC), which is responsible for transporting consumer goods such as electronics, clothes and toys, is a new entrant in the EU’s list of the top 10 worst carbon emitters, coming in at number eight. The company, which produced around 11 million tonnes of CO2 emissions in 2018, is the most prolific emitter in the list which is not a coal plant; and analysis of the pollution data by NGO umbrella body Transport & Environment (T&E) indicates that, if the shipping industry responsible for moving millions of Christmas gifts were a country, it would be the eighth highest emitter in the EU.

In total, ships travelling to and from Europe produced more than 139 million tonnes of CO2 in the last year. The maritime sector is exempt from EU fuel duty, saving around €24bn per year; and shipping as a whole is not subject to the pollution reduction measures which affect other industry sectors. Ursula von der Leyen, the new President of the European Commission, has pledged to extend the EU’s emissions trading system to include the international shipping industry as part of a concerted effort to implement carbon neutrality throughout the bloc.

Faig Abbasov, shipping manager at T&E, said: “A company that consumers have never heard of has joined the top 10 polluters list in Europe. This industry doesn’t pay a cent for its carbon emissions and the EU has so far done nothing to curb its damage. European trade doesn’t have to be dirty just because EU leaders have neglected to clean up shipping – it’s high time national leaders support President Ursula von der Leyen and the European Parliament in reining in long-ignored maritime emissions. To make shipping do its fair share, Europe must bring shipping into its carbon market and mandate CO2 standards for all ships calling at its ports.”

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