Facing Scrutiny on CO2, Rotterdam Starts Tracking Vessel Emissions

Rotterdam handles about 100m tonnes of oil per year for refineries in the port and nearby. Its tracking program covers 14m tonnes per year of shipping emissions (Rik Schuiling / CC BY SA 3.0)

Published Feb 4, 2022 8:36 PM by The Maritime Executive

Responding to scrutiny from an environmental watchdog over its carbon emissions, Europe’s largest and busiest port says that it intends to make its impact more transparent.

On the day that NGO Transport & Environment (T&E) revealed that the port of Rotterdam was associated with almost 14 million tonnes of CO2 emissions annually, making it the most carbon-emitting port in Europe, the Port of Rotterdam Authority said it has partnered with the consultancy BigMile to develop a digital platform to identify and track transport-related emissions within its waters.

Over the next six months, the authority and BigMile will undertake a pilot project to calculate seagoing and inland vessel movements within the port with the aim of better understanding its emissions levels.

The port intends to use AIS data to precisely calculate transport sector emissions. The emission platform will help the port and business community make better choices and implement strategies to make the facility a carbon-neutral port. Findings from the project will be shared with shipping companies and terminals in the second half of the year.

“With millions of transport movements, we are the largest port in Europe. This means that our activities can have a huge impact on making logistics more sustainable,” said Nico van Dooren, who is responsible for the Port of Rotterdam Authority’s energy transition program.

He added the port is working on a series of related projects to make the industry and logistics more sustainable, from determining optimal connections via the most sustainable modality to the production of alternative fuels and promoting fast and efficient port call handling.

As Europe’s largest and busiest port, Rotterdam has been handling an average of 14.5 million TEU throughput annually. It is an absolute leader in crude oil handling and storage in Northwest Europe, moving 100 million tonnes of oil every year, almost entirely for refineries within the port and the nearby region. 

A new study by T&E shows that transport emissions at Rotterdam are also somewhat significant at 13.7 million metric tonnes - nearly twice its largest competitor, Antwerp.

With the digital platform, Rotterdam said it is taking a step towards using sound data to manage its emissions reduction strategy. BigMile has developed a calculation and analysis platform to help shippers and logistics service providers optimize and report on the multi-modal transport-related carbon emissions of their transport. Its platform, which already has over 200 users, helps logistics firms comply with carbon reporting requirements and regulations. 

“In the first project phase, we are focusing on area emissions in the port of Rotterdam area, from 60 kilometres offshore to the Brienenoordbrug. We are literally ‘charting’ sea-going and inland shipping’s actual emissions based on vessel and vehicle movements,” explained Wouter Nering Bögel, BigMile project manager.