27 March 2024


Transport & Environment (T&E) published this week a study analysing how ocean carriers are making profits from the implementation of the ETS to maritime transport by charging ETS surcharges well above their actual ETS costs, resulting in a source of windfall profits.

T&E analysed over 500 journeys from 20 different ships from each of Europe’s biggest carriers (Maersk, MSC, CMG-CGM and Hapag-Lloyd), modelled their expected ETS costs based on passed journeys and emissions data and compared them with the ETS surcharges announced by carriers at the end of 2023 before the launch of ETS maritime on 1st January 2024. The study found that in nearly 90% of cases, shipping companies are charging customers more than the actual costs of the EU ETS. Overall, Maersk adds on average around €60,000/voyage, while MSC adds €25,000, CMA CGM €14,000 and Hapag-Lloyd €23,000/voyage. In one extreme case, Maersk would likely make more than €300,000 extra off a single voyage.

The analysis took several conservative assumptions, including higher emissions efficiency data and lower load factor, which could lower the overall ETS costs of companies while increasing their profits. In addition, one notable factor to consider is the current price of ETS allowances: the ETS surcharges had been based on an average price (between €80 and €90/tCO2) significantly higher than the current price, around €60/tCO2, which can increase even more the profits if ETS surcharges are not revised according to current prices.

Nevertheless, current ETS costs are affected by several external factors, most notably by the Red Sea crisis diverting most container ships from the Suez Canal via the Cape of Good Hope, increasing fuel and ETS compliance costs. But carriers have implemented a certain number of surcharges to cover these costs.

CLECAT has repeatedly called on carriers to exercise care on imposing surcharges to ensure it only covers the costs incurred by the reason of the surcharge, including compliance with ETS.  ETS surcharges should not become a revenue model for carriers, at the expense of their customers and of the decarbonisation of maritime shipping.

Source: Transport & Environment