European shipyards and maritime equipment manufacturers demand from the EU “significant investments” in zero-emission waterborne transport in order to meet the ambitious 2050 maritime strategy and stay ahead of Asian competition.
According to Sea Europe, a shipyards’ and maritime equipment association, investments should be made in research, development and innovation. The waterborne sector will also need to rely on targeted research, development, innovation and deployment measures, both financially and from a regulatory and policy perspective.
With 90% of international trade, 80% of the EU’s external trade and 40% of the EU’s internal trade carried by water, shipping is vital for trade. With 40% of world merchant shipping under their control, European shipowners are key players in global shipping.
At the same time, shipping accounts for 3.1% of global CO2 emissions and would be the sixth biggest CO2 emitter in the world if it would be a country. If no measures would be taken, emissions from shipping would further grow in the coming years.
To reduce the GHG emissions from shipping, the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) adopted an Initial Strategy in April 2018.
In November 2018, the European Commission issued its most recent strategy where waterborne transport is considered as an important mode of transport to realize the priority of “clean, safe and connected mobility.”
In January this year, the waterborne sector in Europe issued an ambitious “Strategic Research Agenda”, aiming at realizing a zero-emission waterborne transport for newbuilt ships and inland barges by 2030 and a zero-emission waterborne transport for any ship type on any ship voyage by 2050. The strategy goes beyond eliminating greenhouse gas emissions alone as the waterborne sector also aims at eliminating any other harmful environmental substances, including air pollutants, water pollution, waste and noise.
Against the background of the European Commission’s “A Clean Planet for All” strategy and the ongoing trialogue discussions on Horizon Europe, SEA Europe’s Secretary General, Christophe Tytgat, said: “I count on decision-makers in Member States to take the claims of their population and youngsters on combating climate change and on reducing GHG emissions, including from waterborne transport, very serious. That means that this time, they cannot look away from or forget about the waterborne sector.”
“Contrary to the past, this time the Waterborne sector really needs to receive a fair and substantial share of the financial cake from financial programmes such as Horizon Europe. This financial support will be critical in allowing the waterborne sector to realize its ambitious vision for a zero-emission waterborne transport by 2050 and thus for contributing to making Europe a climate neutral economy and society by 2050.”
“In doing so, Europe and its leaders will also help European shipyards and maritime equipment manufacturers in staying ahead of global competition, mainly from Asia, in terms of innovation and to allow European shipyards and maritime equipment manufacturers to continue to design and build the most innovative ship types in Europe and to produce the most innovative maritime equipment, technologies and systems in Europe,” Tytgat explained.
“More than ever before, these innovative ship designs and ship types as well as innovative equipment, systems and technologies will be crucial in combating climate change, in reducing GHG emissions from ships and ultimately in making waterborne transport a zero emission mode of transport.”
“At the same time, innovation will allow European shipyards and maritime equipment manufacturers to maintain or regain global leadership in shipbuilding and maritime equipment, systems and technologies. For these reasons, Europe and its Member States need to take political action now, in support of the waterborne sector and the European maritime technology sector,” he pointed out.
SEA Europe represents close to 100% of the European shipbuilding industry in 16 nations, encompassing the production, maintenance, repair and conversion of all types of ships and floating structures, commercial as well as naval, including the full supply chain with producers of maritime systems, equipment material, and services.