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UK can lead shipping’s green recovery — with the right support

There is an opportunity to make the coronavirus recovery a green recovery and invest in technologies in the UK that can be sold across the world, creating new high-value jobs

If the UK maritime sector is to gain a substantial share of a global blue economy set to be worth over £2tn by 2030, it needs innovation and the right environment set by the government, says the head of the Chamber of Shipping

THE coronavirus outbreak has had a major impact on a range of industries, including shipping.

We have seen factories in parts of the world slow down and supply chains have been severely impacted.

But today, on the UN’s World Maritime Day, which is focused on sustainable shipping, as we look to reset and recover from the pandemic it is vital that the shipping industry does not lose sight of its environmental responsibilities. We must use the opportunity in front of us to lay the foundations for a green recovery, starting right here in the UK.

We know shipping contributes about 2% of global greenhouse gases, and although there has been huge progress in reducing emissions across the sector more needs to be done.

Innovation is going to be at the heart of tackling climate change. There is a global innovation race with countries competing to develop and deliver green tech to the world’s shipping fleet.

As a proud maritime nation with expertise across the country, I believe the UK should be leading the way in developing the technologies of tomorrow.

We have centres of excellence with some of the greatest minds in the world. Places like the High Value Manufacturing Catapult in Sheffield and the Energy Systems Catapult in Birmingham, as well as universities like Strathclyde which is co-leading a new national centre for maritime innovation and technology. Maritime Research and Innovation, or MaRI-UK, recently announced the first recipients of funding to develop clean maritime technology. Although there is a long way to go, this is an important step in the right direction. 

As we look to the future, we have an opportunity to make the Covid-19 recovery a green recovery and strategically invest in technologies that can be sold across the world, creating new high-value jobs.

The UK maritime sector is worth £40bn a year, and with the global blue economy set to be worth over £2tn by 2030, if we are to get a lion’s share of that business, we need innovation and the right environment set by the government. But we need government support, just like the auto and aero sectors have received.

The UK government has committed to reaching net-zero by 2050 and last year they launched the Clean Maritime Plan. It requires all-new ships trading in UK waters, both international and domestic, to be designed with zero-emission capable technologies.

The targets have been set and they are challenging. But with the right focus, the right strategic plan, and the right funding from the Spending Review in the next few years, I hope to see the UK take advantage of its place in the maritime world and lead the charge to create the technologies needed to decarbonise the global shipping industry.

Bob Sanguinetti is chief executive of the UK Chamber of Shipping

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