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UGS report warns shift to multi-fuel future could herald the end of low-cost seaborne trade

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The Union of Greek Shipowners (UGS) has issued a Report on technical aspects related to the decarbonisation of the shipping sector, which supplements the UGS Survey of Alternative Fuels -Technologies for Shipping (released in May 2021) and presents a technical perspective on the potential alternative marine fuels and vessel technologies that need to be developed to enable the decarbonisation of the maritime transport sector.

“Greece with Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and his pertinent call for an EU Research Centre for Alternative Marine Fuels and Technologies, has taken an initiative for the effective decarbonisation of our industry and for real GHG emissions reductions”, the President of the UGS, Theodore Veniamis, said. “Mr. Mitsotakis’ proposal places Greece in the forefront of European developments regarding the sustainability of both the environment and of EU’s important strategic asset, the shipping industry”, Veniamis continued.

The UGS wishing to contribute with its specialised know-how and its hands-on shipping experience to the current environmental debate has compiled relevant technical information. This information illustrates that the introduction and market uptake of new, economically viable and safe low and zero emission fuels and propulsion technologies available worldwide are essential for shipping’s energy transition and that these are mainly the responsibility and area of expertise of out of sector stakeholders in the maritime field.

“It is important for policy and law makers to take this reality into account before regulating solely for shipowners. It is equally important to ensure that it is indeed the polluter who pays for the costs deriving from the relevant EU regulations, such as the EU Emissions Trading System (EU ETS), as has rightly been pointed out by the Prime Minister of Greece. This entity is the commercial operator of a ship and it is more often than not a different entity to the shipowner i.e. the charterer. Assigning responsibility to the right stakeholders who make decisions pertinent to the environmental footprint of ships is fundamental to effect real environmental change”, Veniamis concluded.

The report itself concludes by saying ‘Depending on the fragmentation of the future fuel landscape and the length of the transitional period towards a new era, the shift to a multi-fuel future may in fact herald the end of low-cost seaborne trade and its mainstay, the international bulk/tramp shipping model which is responsible for over 84% of global seaborne tonne-miles’.

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