May 2020 – During the Board meeting last week, the Belgian shipowners welcomed the EU Commission’s determination to proceed with the European Green Deal as planned.
However, as these times are unprecedented, the Belgian Shipowners’ Association assumes that there might be some delay, because of the impact of the Covid-19 virus. “As all EU industries, also shipowners will need time to recover and, even more important today, to take care of their crew and people on board. The challenges have been and still are tremendous for them, our heroes at sea” said Wilfried Lemmens.
Mr Lemmens emphasised that while shipowners are preparing to go back to the new normal, the EU institutions need to realise that the technologies necessary to achieve the ambitious 2050 IMO goals still do not exist at a scale or in a form commercially viable for widespread use by international shipping, especially for transoceanic voyages. The RBSA therefore believes that support for massive research and development activity needs to be at the centre of the implementation of the IMO strategy by Member States.
Recognizing this, the international shipping industry submitted a proposal to IMO to establish an International Maritime Research Board that would manage an international Maritime Research Fund. This fund would be established through an international bunker levy system, and paid for by the shipping industry.
RBSA is in favour of such a system, through which the global shipping industry will have to internalise its external costs to human health and the environment. “As Belgian citizens, of course our heart beats for Europe and its Green Deal, it’s almost in our nature” Mr Lemmens said. As such, the RBSA’s plea to the European regulators is for the EU to take up its role as frontrunner and to push for the establishment of such a system at IMO level, as soon as possible. The EU needs to find an agreement with all other IMO parties, taking into account the special needs and concerns of the Small Islands Developing States, so no-one is left behind. An efficient EU/regional system that enables a fundamental change worldwide should therefore be constructive and inclusive, easy to roll out on the international level and, as important, keep us competitive versus our non-EU counterparts.
In it’s Green Deal Communication of December 2019, the European Commission invited all stakeholders, including the industry, to cooperate and combine forces in transforming the EU economy for a sustainable future. “A challenge we gladly accept!” Mr Lemmens confirmed. Together with the EU institutions, the Belgian Shipowners want to ensure that European policies and legislation are enforced and deliver effectively, a requirement that is also written down in the EU Green Deal. “If we want zero emission waterborne transport by 2050, everyone will have to pick up pace, because the shipping industry needs the seismic transformation to kick in today” Mr Lemmens concluded.
Picture: Copyright CMB – Belgian shipowners expanding research to build a Hydrogen bunkering station in the port of Antwerp.