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Shipping’s needs ignored despite averting global meltdown, say Greeks

Union of Greek Shipowners says EU’s ‘misguided’ policies offer little hope of decarbonising the industry

World’s largest shipowning nation dismissive of plans to include shipping in the EU carbon market, but Greek owners hint they could support a ‘less disruptive’ measure based on buying and selling carbon allowances

SHIPPING industry needs continue to be ignored by political decision-makers internationally even though the important role of shipping has become even more evident since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, according to Greek shipowners.

“The industry’s needs are absent from the list of priorities of governmental officials and decision-makers,” said Union of Greek Shipowners president Theodore Veniamis.

This was despite the industry’s “undeniably indispensable” contribution to securing global supply chains and the flow of vital goods and commodities to people around the world.

While that was true in both good times and crises, it was “thanks to the thousands of vessels operating worldwide and the hard work of maritime professionals and seafarers — ‘the heroes of the seas’ — that a global economic meltdown has been averted,” he said.

The pandemic had called attention to shipping’s role in a globalised, interconnected world “probably in an unprecedented way”.

Writing in the UGS annual report, Mr Veniamis saved his harshest criticism for the European Union, saying its recent plans for a regional emissions trading system were “incompatible” with the global nature of maritime transport.

The European Commission’s ‘Fit for 55’ package “seriously undermines” global efforts to decarbonise the sector, he said.

“We need to be clear that shipping decarbonisation cannot be a realistic goal without the crucial contribution of ship engine manufacturers, shipyards, marine fuel producers and suppliers.

“Unless significant R&D investment is allocated for the development of appropriate propulsion systems and marine fuels, shipping will continue to be carbon captive. However, it is shipowners that are called upon to comply with misguided policies and primarily revenue-generating legislation.

“The months ahead appear to be even more challenging,” he warned, citing mainly climate change-related regulatory moves.

The UGS could support “a less disruptive” European Union market-based measure in the form of a dedicated fund that would buy and sell allowances under the EU Emissions Trading Scheme based on their average price in the previous year, the report said.

This would be “more workable” for the thousands of small and medium-sized enterprises comprising the industry, according to the union.

The other proviso was that such a fund should finance R&D into new green marine fuels.

At the same time, the EU should focus on supporting the global competitiveness of its shipping industry and wider maritime cluster.

The EU’s ‘Green Deal’, important though it was, “should not overwhelm the maritime policy agenda,” it argued.

Based on data for 2020, Greece remained the world’s largest shipowning nation, said the UGS.

With a fleet of 4,901 vessels, Greek owners controlled more than 19.4% of global deadweight tonnage and represented 58% of the EU-controlled fleet

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