ATHENS, May 30 (Xinhua) -- Global maritime industry is a frontrunner in the campaign for a carbon free future, but much more remains to be done to achieve the targets set for the further greening of ships and ports in coming years, Greek ship owners and international experts said during a two-day forum in Athens.
"Our industry is currently the most environmentally friendly form of transport. The participants are dedicated through self regulation to be better and be the guiding force for other industries to follow. We are the only industry to adopt energy efficiency measures that are not only legally binding, but accepted and applied globally," George Pateras, President of the Hellenic Chamber of Shipping, said opening the forum on Wednesday.
"In 2007 CO2 emissions for ships were about 885 million metric tons, representing 2.7 percent of the world's CO2 emissions. By 2012 CO2 emissions for ships had dropped to 796 million or 2.2 percent," he noted, referring to some of the progress achieved so far.
However, Greek ship owners who for decades run the world's largest fleet, complain that a disproportionate responsibility is still placed upon ship owners compared to charterers, urging for more joined efforts to sail ahead on the way to zero emission shipping, as a new deadline nears.
The Union of Greek Ship owners (UGS) welcomed the progress made by the Marine Environment Protection Committee of the United Nations International Maritime Organization (UN IMO) earlier this month with regard to the implementation of the new 0.5 percent sulphur limit on marine fuels worldwide as of Jan. 1, 2020, according to a UGS press release, calling for more cooperation among all sides.
In addition to the sulphur cap IMO has also targeted the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions from 2008 to 2050 by 50 percent.
Regarding ports' role in efforts to minimize the environmental impact, the carbon footprint, and support the Decarbonizing of the shipping industry, the perspective is optimistic with European ports leading the way, two experts told Xinhua during the forum.
"Air quality has been the top priority for the European ports since 2013. Climate related to energy consumption and climate change is also among the top ten priorities of the European ports," said Sotiris Raptis, senior Policy Advisor for Environment and Safety at the European Sea Ports Organization (ESPO).
"We are trying to incentivize the port users, the shipping companies to reduce their emissions by rewarding the frontrunners. More than half of European ports have in place incentive schemes to reward the frontrunners and give green discounts to ships that go beyond standards in place," he noted.
"An increasing number of European ports provide electricity for ships at berth and LNG banker facilities. What is interesting is that many times ports go beyond what is provided for in law and they set up their own climate targets," Raptis explained.
"More than one third of European ports are engaged directly or indirectly in the production of renewable electricity and this is very important in the debate about future fuels in shipping. We are going to need a lot more of renewable electricity in the port area to facilitate also the transition of shipping in zero carbon in the future," he stressed.
Antonis Michael is Technical Director of the world ports sustainability program, a major sustainability initiative of the International Association of Ports and Harbors.
"There is definitely an optimistic perspective. In the European level, at the level of the European Sea Ports Organization for instance, there are well established reporting mechanisms to track progress. At the level of global ports, we don't have that so much yet. We are trying to establish it in concrete ways with our initiatives now," he told Xinhua.
There is a plethora of good practice examples, Michael said.
"We can see more and more ports for instance sourcing clean sources of energy, wind, solar, investing in testing hydro turbines and wave energy. A lot of ports also focus as well on energy efficiency of their operation, of the lighting of their piers and port activities," the expert noted.