An NGO demonstrates the “greenwashing” of liquid gas ships

The NGO T&E has proven with infrared cameras that these LNG ships do worse than better for the climate, which the industry disputes.

A liquefied natural gas (LNG or LNG in English) ship in Saint-Nazaire on April 12, 2022 @BelgaImage

The NGO Transport & Environment (T&E) is questioning the “green” side of ships fueled by liquefied natural gas (LNG), which is particularly popular with French shipping company CMA CGM because it releases large amounts of methane into the atmosphere, such a two-year study. Ship measurement published on Wednesday.

“In the flagrante delicto of ‘greenwashing'”

These ships may dress in green, but beneath the veil the truth is that most LNG ships in service today are more polluting than the ones they replace.” stresses Delphine Gozillon, in charge of maritime transport at T&E, a European association that brings together around fifty NGOs based in Brussels. “CMA CGM promotes LNG as a sustainable fuel but is silent on methane. That can be called flagrante delicto ‘green washing (Greenwashing), she accuses in a press release.

According to YOU, infrared images taken last November with a special camera in the port of Rotterdam in the Netherlands show unburned methane being released from the three smokestacks of the CMA CGM container ship “Louvre”, which was delivered in late 2020. The NGO also followed the Dutch dredger Ecodelta. “Unburned emissions were also recorded here, with methane being released from the two exhaust pipes at the front of the ship“, She writes.

Two camps, two speeches

LNG ships are touted as a clean alternative to traditional fuels, but the gas is made up of 90% methane, of which “The impact on global warming is more than 80 times greater than that of carbon dioxide over a twenty-year period“, denounces T&E. “We are in the middle of a climate crisis. We can’t afford to put more methane into the atmosphere“, emphasizes Mrs. Gozillon and pleads for the development of “truly sustainable, hydrogen-based solutions“.”Our survey is a small sample, but it should serve as a warning to policymakers“, she adds.

LNG is today the best fuel available on an industrial scale, making it possible to take action for the maritime energy transition“, responded CMA CGM. The French shipowner based in Marseille “has already identified the issue of unburned methane, has been measuring it for almost two years and is actively working with its engine partners to reduce it‘ a spokesperson told AFP, noting that the technology ‘developing” is “on the path of continuous improvement“Emissions have already come down, he said. The switch to LNG was originally intended primarily to eliminate sulfur emissions, a plague on ships using heavy fuel oil, it has also been noted.

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