A voice from the industry

Common systems will benefit both the environment and the shipping industry

The environment is one of the most important issues for the shipping industry, and one of the top priorities for the European Community Shipowners’ Associations, ECSA. According to Patrick Verhoeven, Secretary General of ECSA, there are a lot of good initiatives in the environmental area, and the industry now needs to improve the communication of what is done.

Shipping is the backbone of international trade. European ship owners control 40 per cent of the world’s merchant fleet and operate shipping services all over the world. So shipping is vital for European trade, but at the same time it is quite invisible. We need to promote ourselves. In order to handle the competition from shipping centres outside Europe we need to establish a sound business climate and get the internal market in Europe working. The latter concerns for example custom issues, but also regulatory issues.

Focus on a competitive business environment

At ECSA we are trying to make sure that policies and regulations provide good conditions for the European shipping industry. The competition for European shipping will continue to grow stronger in the future. Therefore the EU has to simplify for the industry, and contribute to creating a business environment that works.

The environment is an important issue and one of our priorities. The shipping industry is working on several different initiatives in the environmental area, but is not always very good at communicating this.

Reducing emissions

The main challenge here concerns emissions to air. When the Sulphur Directive comes into force in January 2015, it will affect a substantial part of the industry. We fear that some routes may encounter serious implications, with cargo moving to different transportation modes. It is therefore important that all is done to support the sector in adjusting to the requirements of the Directive. There is a real sense of urgency here, which policy-makers should understand.

The next big concern will be how to handle CO2 emissions as regulations in this area will come in a foreseeable future.

The shipping industry has started to make adjustments to the new conditions following environmental regulations, for example when it comes to ways of minimizing emissions. Stena is thinking ahead in this area and are proactive, and are for example investigating using methanol as an alternative fuel.

Cooperation for a common set of regulations

We cannot ignore the environmental challenges, and it is important to handle these issues and change the mentality of the industry. It is, however, important for all parties to cooperate, in order to establish a working process for regulatory matters. We can learn a lot from the process preceding the Sulphur Directive, where the rules were established without first making a thorough analysis of the consequences. We need to clearly know what the impact will be before we introduce the rules. There also needs to be one international system, not several regional ones.

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