European ports make decarbonisation pledge

As part of the ongoing discussions on the future FuelEU Maritime Initiative, the European Sea Ports Organisation (ESPO) has expressed the commitment of European ports to play their part in helping the shipping sector decarbonise.

Isabelle Ryckbost, Secretary General ESPO, said: ‘We welcome the Green Deal ambitions and the proposed EU-wide target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% by 2030. Even if the maritime sector is one of the most energy-efficient modes of transport, this ambitious target will require the shipping sector to take urgent action now in order to significantly reduce emissions.’

Ryckbost continued: ‘It is now important to find the most effective ways to deliver on these ambitions. There is no time to waste, and given the current economic circumstances, there is no money to waste.’

The FuelEU Maritime Initiative is expected to have direct implications for alternative fuel infrastructures and, according to ESPO, ‘must therefore be compatible and well-aligned with existing legislation, specifically the Alternative Fuels Infrastructure Directive’, which would require ‘targeted and effective’ investments in ports. 

Ryckbost warned against investments that ‘simply tick arbitrary boxes’ through prescriptive goals without ensuring the use and uptake of sustainable alternative fuels. Such an approach, she said, ‘will not deliver in terms of emission reductions of the shipping sector.’

Rather, ESPO is backing an approach which combines clear goals with a supportive policy for the most promising technologies, which it says would avoid the risk of creating stranding assets.

‘Such a goal-based approach will provide the basis for bottom-up coalitions between stakeholders,’ said Ryckbost. ‘We see such a framework as the best guarantee for delivering the decarbonisation of the maritime sector.’

ESPO argues that such an approach would help achieve economies of scale and overcome potential hurdles to the deployment of alternative fuels infrastructure, which include ‘uncertain demand, high initial investment costs, and slow and uncertain return on investment.’

To further incentivise the use of clean fuels, ESPO argues that the review of the Energy Taxation Directive must provide for a ‘permanent and EU-wide’ tax exemption for all clean fuels and clean sources of energy. It also noted that the deployment and use of infrastructures could also be encouraged using revenues generated by forthcoming market-based measures for shipping.

The full ESPO position on the FuelEU Maritime Initiative is available here

Rhys Berry

Rhys Berry