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Carbon Emissions Index

Q3'23 Carbon emission carrier ranking | US East Coast to North Europe

US East Coast to North Europe | Carbon Emissions Index

We are back with the latest edition of the Xeneta and Marine Benchmark Carbon Emission Index (CEI), focusing on US East Coast to North Europe trade.


The CEI ranks carriers by their carbon emissions, with lower scores representing better performance in this regard.


The CEI on this trade during Q3 provides an intriguing insight – not only in terms of carriers’ carbon emissions performance, but also the impact capacity management has on a fronthaul and the knock-on effect it has on the backhaul.

Q3'23 CEI Carrier Ranking

US East Coast to North Europe




1 COSCO 80.8
2 OOCL 86.2
3 Maersk 106.2
8 Independent Container Line 191.2







All-time low filling factor leads to index decline

The US East Coast to North Europe trade lane has experienced the most significant decline on the CEI in Q3, deteriorating by 19.6 points in comparison to Q2. This is largely due to an all-time low filling factor on this trade, which decreased from 63.4% in Q2 to 57.9% during Q3.

The decrease in filling factor may result from carriers prioritizing profitability on other trade lanes at the expense of the Transatlantic fronthaul and backhaul.

Numerous times this year across all Xeneta market intelligence reports we have described the Transatlantic as a “parking lot” for excess capacity which has been removed from other major trades.

This approach on the Transatlantic can be seen reflected in spot rates. On 7 December, freight rates for the backhaul reached USD 530 per FEU, a level that has not been seen on this trade since June 2020. Since then they have edged up slightly to stand at USD 534 per FEU.

Transatlantic - Filling factor development ocean freight rates

COSCO take top spot

If we look at carrier performance on the CEI, COSCO has taken top spot on the CEI in Q3 for the US East Coast to North Europe trade with a score of 80.8.

COSCO has been operating record-high ship size on this trade since Q1 2023 with an average of 13 092 TEU and has maintained this into Q3. Sailing speeds has also been slower than the trade average for three consecutive quarters, standing at 13.5 knots in Q3.

Second place on the CEI belongs to Orient Overseas Container Line (OOCL) with a score of 86.2 points. This is due in large to a filling factor of 76.5% which is 18.6 percentage points above the average for the trade.

However, OOCL missed out on top spot due to the average age of ships deployed on this trade, which stands at 22.6 years compared to COSCO’s 11.4 years.

Conflicting fortunes on the front and back haul

A notable story on the CEI in Q3 is the negative development of Evergreen’s performance on the trade from US East Coast to North Europe. Evergreen took the top spot on the CEI in Q2 with a score of 41.1, however, this has deteriorated to stand at 122.5 in Q3.

However, at the same time, Evergreen was the top performer in Q3 on the trade lane from North Europe to US East Coast.

What could be driving these conflicting fortunes across the front and back hauls?

Well, the success of Evergreen’s performance on the fronthaul was due to the type of ships deployed, which had an average age of just 4.4 years. They also deployed bigger ships, with an average capacity of 12 772 TEU compared to the trade lane average of 7 340 TEU. On top of all that, Evergreen’s ships sailed at slower speeds, averaging 14.4 knots.

However, Evergreen’s approach on the fronthaul caused challenges on the backhaul. Operating larger vessels on the backhaul capable of carrying an average of 11 888 TEU had a negative impact on filling factor which declined to an extremely low 37%.

That wraps up our final post on the CEI for 2023. We’ll be back in 2024 with even more insights, stories and developments – and it promises to be another intriguing year with the onset of new carbon emissions regulations.

Get an honest view of carrier emissions

Stay one step ahead of your competitors by making well-informed and sustainable choices when selecting shipping carriers. Xeneta and Marine Benchmark offer an independent and trustworthy Carbon Emissions Index (CEI) data, ensuring accuracy without any guesswork. By utilizing AIS tracking of real-time sailings on 48 major trade routes worldwide, with coverage expanding further in the near future, you can rely on up-to-date information. Don't settle for outdated and unreliable data. Schedule a demo of the CEI today and begin making intelligent shipping decisions. 

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