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Minister makes passionate environmental plea

Daniel Bjarmann-Simonsen tells the International Ship Autonomy and Sustainability Summit that shipping should to rise to challenge of climate change to secure a sustainable future

The challenge will be to strike the right balance between production and environmental protection, says minister

THE maritime community has been urged to rise to challenge of climate change to secure a sustainable future for the industry.

Daniel Bjarmann-Simonsen, State Secretary at Norway’s Ministry of Trade, Industry and Fisheries, said that more efficient and environmentally friendly transport is vital to provide more food, jobs and energy.

“That is why the world needs a sustainable, innovative and competitive maritime industry,” he said at the International Ship Autonomy and Sustainability Summit in Oslo.

In the case of Norway, he stressed how the ocean is a blue thread that runs through Norwegian history, the lifeblood of its culture, mentality and economy.

“We have always lived by the sea, off the sea and for the sea,’’ he said, “From fish to oil, gas and shipbuilding... the ocean remains our main source of jobs, welfare, wealth and health, and there is no doubt we will continue to live off the sea in the future.”

He said finding solutions for the environmental challenges “is therefore essential”.

Mr Bjarmann-Simonsen also noted the importance of research and development in reaching these green goals.

He pointed to the world’s first seagoing autonomous ship, Yara Birkeland, which was developed in Norway and launched last year, as an example of what can be achieved. He said that it has helped to remove as many as 40,000 trucks from Norway’s roads.

“This ground-breaking technology is now a reality,’’ said Mr Bjarmann-Simonsen. “It requires collaboration between the industry and authorities and this is call for everyone to be on board.

“When the industry is facing stricter environmental regulations both locally and globally that is why we have to continue to strengthen global co-operation.”

However, he said the challenge will be to strike the right balance between production and environmental protection, if the industry is to prosper and create sustainable job opportunities.

“There is much we do not know about the future, but the ocean will remain our fortune and our destiny,” said Mr Bjarmann-Simonsen.

“As the famous French ocean explorer Jacques Cousteau once said, ‘the sea, the great unifier, is man’s only hope’. Now this famous saying has a literal meaning, we are all in the same boat.”

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