The topic of sustainability is becoming increasingly important in maritime and container freight shipping. Where does the industry stand today?
With the IMO’s recent decision to make international shipping climate-neutral by 2050 and the resulting framework legislation, the industry has a clear but ambitious goal. After all, global shipping is still responsible for around three percent of global carbon emissions. We will only be able to achieve this change with a mixture of technical, operational, and innovative solutions and with the participation of all those involved in the process. This includes not only shipowners, shippers, and carriers, but also ports and all other players in the supply chain.
A task that the Port of Antwerp-Bruges takes very seriously. The UN describes your organization as a pioneer among sustainable ports worldwide. In your opinion, is this an accurate assessment?
I think so. Along with local and international partners, the Port of Antwerp-Bruges is leading the transition to a cleaner, more climate-friendly world based on renewable and circular energy. As one of the largest bunkering ports in the world, the Port of Antwerp-Bruges wants to play a pioneering role in the integration of carbon-neutral fuels in the bunkering market. In this way, we are working on the transition to a multi-fuel port, with renewable fuels that are better for the climate and the quality of the air. So, we enable future generations to also enjoy the prosperity and jobs that the port creates.
Keyword multi-fuel port: What is the status?
So far, everything is going according to plan. We are already supplying our customers with alternative fuels such as LNG and biofuels via a modern bunkering system. In the coming years, we will expand our current portfolio with other green fuels such as methanol and ammonia as well as offerings from the fields of hydrogen, batteries, and wind assistance. As a multi-fuel port, we not only facilitate the availability of clean fuels and the provision of a suitable bunker system, but also the planning and handling of last-mile deliveries and the promotion of alternatives. Measures that all contribute to our overarching goal: We want to establish a so-called Green Shipping Corridor by 2025. I think we are on the right track here.
What is behind the Green Corridor model?
With this agreement, two ports commit to mobilize their respective public and private sector partners alike to assess, identify, develop, and deploy joint or complementary solutions and infrastructure to facilitate the trade of green fuels and the supply of renewable fuels and clean technologies to ships. We were one of the first ports in the world to sign a framework partnership with the Port of Montreal, which, like us, has signed the call for the decarbonization of shipping. In addition, there are announcements of around 30 more Green Shipping Corridors worldwide, including from Shanghai to Los Angeles or from Halifax to Hamburg.
How important is the model for the sustainable development of the industry?
The establishment of green corridors involving public and private stakeholders is certainly an important key to sustainable change in maritime shipping. However, there is still a lot to do before we get there. On the one hand, the stakeholders involved, such as shipowners, cargo owners and ports, have very different interests, and on the other hand, we are dealing with a very complex process that also requires considerable financial investment. However, if we succeed in developing solutions that are supported by all those involved, we will have taken a significant step forward on our path to sustainable maritime shipping.