Belgium and the United Kingdom are forging a united front to usher in a more environmentally conscious era on the high seas. As part of the Clydebank Declaration inked during COP26, both nations are steadfast in their commitment to establishing what they term “Green Shipping Corridors” – maritime routes where at least one ship operates entirely free from emissions. This bold vision received official endorsement today at the port, as Minister Paul Van Tigchelt and Baroness Charlotte Vere of Norbiton joined forces.
The port of Antwerp-Bruges, Europe’s second-largest, plays a pivotal role in global trade, with seafaring vessels accounting for a staggering 90% of worldwide cargo transportation. Yet, with the maritime industry also responsible for 3% of global CO2 emissions, the need for transformation is acutely evident.
In order to meet the ambitious 2050 goal of achieving zero emissions, technical advancements and the accessibility of alternative fuels are deemed indispensable. Belgian shipowners and port authorities have already embarked on tangible initiatives, including the establishment of the inaugural hydrogen bunkering station in Ostend and cooperative ventures with international ports to bring more eco-friendly corridors to fruition.
The collaboration agreement unveiled today places a strong emphasis not only on environmentally friendly transport routes but also on bolstering security within ports. This proactive response addresses the surge in organized crime, with Belgium teaming up with European partners to combat criminal activities in port facilities.
Both Minister Van Tigchelt and Baroness Vere of Norbiton underscored the significance of this collaborative effort. “Through our partnership with the UK, we are paving the way for green corridors connecting our nations. These routes are ideally suited for the adoption of alternative fuels,” stated Van Tigchelt. Baroness Vere added, “In conjunction with Belgium, the UK is steering our ferry and cargo routes toward a more sustainable future.”
Alexander Saverys, CEO of CMB, underscored the role of ports as hubs for hydrogen and green innovation, with aspirations of transitioning to a fully green fleet by 2050.
The signing of this cooperative agreement between Belgium and the United Kingdom represents a significant stride toward a more sustainable and secure future for global shipping. With a focus on green technologies and a dedicated commitment to enhancing port security, both countries demonstrate their dedication to environmental preservation and combating organized crime. This international collaboration stands as a pivotal model for other nations striving to foster a more sustainable maritime sector.