Transport and environment: the gas used to power European maritime transport could exceed that of 7 million homes


In 2030, Europe’s shipping industry will need more than 6.3 million metric tons of LNG to fuel its growing fleet of gas-fired ships, enough to power 7 million homes, a new study from Transport and Environment shows ( TEA). This will only increase Europe’s dependence on fossil fuels, says T&E, which has called the switch to LNG irresponsible in times of energy crisis.

Constance Dijkstra, LNG campaigner at T&E, said: “As families across Europe struggle to pay their energy bills, the shipping industry is looking for new ways to burn gas. By 2030, almost a quarter of Europe’s shipping could be powered by LNG at a time when we need to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels. This cannot be allowed to happen.”

Shipping is a huge source of carbon emissions, responsible for about the same amount of global emissions as flights. The shipping industry and many European politicians are pushing for liquefied natural gas (LNG) as a ‘clean’ alternative to traditional fuels. Yet some 80% of Europe’s LNG used by ships today is worse for the climate than the fuels it replaces due to the release of potent methane gas.

But, as the T&E study shows, Europe’s policymakers should also be concerned about the impact the switch to LNG-powered shipping will have on energy security. T&E analysis shows that more than 200,000 homes could receive the gas needed to fuel the current fleet of LNG-powered ships. With LNG ready to power a quarter of the EU’s shipping energy needs in 2030, the number of households could rise to 7 million, enough to heat all the homes in Belgium or Sweden.

Preventing gas uptake in shipping needs to happen now, T&E says, before all segments of the shipping industry fall into the gas trap. Today, LNG-carrying tankers make up the bulk of LNG-powered ships, but the gas option is tempting other ship types. In 2018, only seven LNG container ships were built. That number has more than doubled by 2022 with 171 LNG container ships ordered worldwide today.

Constance Dijkstra concluded: “With gas supplies so tight and prices so high, there is simply no justification for shipping companies to switch to gas. It’s not even good for the weather. The EU should abandon plans to promote fossil gas in shipping and instead promote green hydrogen-based fuels.”

The EU is at a turning point and can step up the climate ambition of the EU’s FuelEU maritime proposal, the EU’s main alternative fuels law for shipping. Stricter greenhouse gas intensity reduction targets from 2035 would shorten the compliance lifetime of fossil LNG-powered ships, as proposed by the European Parliament on October 19. European lawmakers also voted in favor of a 2% mandate for green hydrogen-based fuels, the first of its kind. T&E calls on EU bodies to turn these proposals into law to start the delayed decarbonisation of Europe’s shipping industry.
Source: European Federation for Transport and Environment


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