Ports play a key role in decarbonisation

memorandum ‘Priorities of European Ports for 2019-2024’ has been published by ESPO. Credit: ESPO

ESPO have prepared a memorandum emphasising the role port managing bodies can play as facilitators of the port ecosystem.

‘Priorities of European Ports for 2019-2024’ for the European Commission and Parliament identifies ten priorities with ten fields of action and importance for the next five years. A key point made by ESPO is that as ports are increasingly asked to take on more environmental stewardship responsibilities, European policy must recognise and embrace the development of ports towards becoming financially more autonomous. It added that port dues should be considered essential, while green rebates should be voluntary.

Speaking at ESPO’s annual conference, ESPO’s secretary general, Isabelle Ryckbost, said: “The memorandum explains how ports can contribute to Europe’s competitiveness. It’s more than just a shopping list of what Europe needs to do or not for European ports.

“European ports are the entry gates for trade, are at the crossroads of supply chains and are hotspots of energy, industry, innovation and digitalisation. We believe that European ports are a strategic partner in achieving Europe’s goals in terms of digitalisation and decarbonisation.”

CEF budget

The memorandum also said the share of the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) budget to be allocated to ports should better reflect the role European ports are playing today as main nodes of transport, energy, industry, digitalisation and blue economy. ESPO said that the 4% share of the CEF budget received over the past years is not enough.

The EU’s investment policy should recognise that most European ports investments serve the wider economy and that certain port investments meet wider societal imperatives, particularly in the areas of environmental and energy policy, it said.

Digitalisation is also highlighted for its ability to enhance environmental performance throughout the supply chain through a better use of transport infrastructure and transport means.

Decarbonisation investments

Europe must support investments that implement the decarbonisation strategy of the port as well as investments that aim to enhance resilience to climate change, ESPO said.

European policymakers should recognise the role European ports are playing and can play as nodes of energy, industry, supply chains and blue economy and to acknowledge how ports can help guide Europe’s economy through the energy transition. Investments in ports that enhance the role and the uptake of alternative fuels and energy in the economy and society should be enhanced. ESPO believes the Connecting Europe Facility II is the right instrument to support these investments.

With regards to infrastructure investment, ESPO said policy measures on the port side should be accompanied by corresponding measures for the users. In case there is no clear earnings model yet, infrastructure on the port side should be co-financed by the user and/or supported with funding.

ESPO is urging European policymakers to start the discussion on the implementation of an EU Emission Control Area (ECA).

It also stated that European ports would like to see action to address any water quality issues related to the use of open loop scrubbers, based on scientific evidence. It said ports support the EU proposal to bring the issue to the IMO.

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