Shippers call for dialogue on decarbonising transport

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The Global Shippers Forum has called for a dialogue between the shipping industry and government to find sustainable solutions to the environmental challenges without stifling economic growth.

GSF general secretary James Hookham said: “GSF is calling for an open dialogue between the shipping industry and the government to ensure policy measures remain practical and supportive of growth and jobs, while addressing the need to radically decarbonise transport; these issues cannot be addressed by policy makers in isolation. Freight transport must be considered as a means to an end rather than an end in itself; this perspective should be at the centre of a dialogue between industry and policy makers.”

Hookham was responding to the launch of the International Transport Forum’s Transport Outlook 2019 which focuses heavily on the need to decarbonise transport.

“This challenge is particularly immense for maritime transport, which, as the dominant mode of transport for inter-continental trade, also carries the largest volume of goods globally. The report lists various solutions, most notably slow steaming, but in the view of GSF, this would have very negative consequences for the buyers of maritime transport: the shippers. It would increase crossing times even further; therefore, it is not a sustainable solution,” he said.

“According to GSF, the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) should retain responsibility for this issue, but more progress is needed on appropriate Market-Based Measures (MBM); the failure to reach a decision at the IMO MEPC 74 was disappointing for shippers. It is crucial to select a measure that will incentivise technical and operational measures to reduce CO2 and not simply pass on additional costs to shippers or significantly increase transit times. The Ship Efficiency Credit Trading (SECT) proposed by the United States comes closest to meeting the principles for a good MBM set out by GSF.”

And, said Hookham: “The report also highlights that although alternative transport modes are likely to increase in volumes – not least air freight connections, and to a lower extent, rail connections between Asia and Europe – maritime deep-sea shipping will continue to dominate in the movement of global trade: more than 3/4 of all freight will continue to be carried by ships in 2050, practically unchanged from 2015. The report points towards a greater concentration of a limited number of ports and routes by the shipping industry, as a result of pressure to cut costs and maintain profitability. The risk for shippers is to end up with an even more dominant and concentrated shipping offer, less choice and potentially less quality too, because of decreasing competition.”

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