UK Clean Maritime Plan published

Clean Maritime Plan The Clean Maritime Plan identifies ways to tackle air pollutants and greenhouse gas emissions. Image: UK Government

The UK government has published the ‘Clean Maritime Plan’ to outline the UK’s pathway to zero-emission shipping, alongside guidance to assist ports in developing air quality strategies.

As the environment route map of Maritime 2050, which followed the IMO’s greenhouse gas strategy to reduce emissions by at least 50% by 2050 and preceded the UK government’s declaration of a target to bring all greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050, the plan identifies ways to tackle air pollutants and greenhouse gas emissions in parallel while securing clean growth opportunities for the UK.

Mark Simmonds, head of policy, at the British Ports Association, said the organisation welcomed the plan and is ready to work with the government on the challenges outlined. “Industry will be responsible for delivering on the ambitions in this plan and the wider 'Net Zero' targets,” he said.

Tim Morris, chief executive of the UK Major Ports Group and member of the Clean Maritime Council, stated that industry will not shy away from the transformation ahead: “The Clean Maritime Plan is a really valuable piece of work, setting out an ambitious path forward for the transformation of the maritime sector in the UK.”

What’s in the plan?

The plan outlines that all new ships for UK waters ordered from 2025 should be designed with zero-emission capable technologies. The government is also looking at ways to incentivise the transition to zero-emission shipping and will consult on this next year. The plan also includes a GB£1m competition to find innovative ways to reduce maritime emissions.

Research commissioned by the Government estimates that alternative fuels will play the most significant role in reducing emissions from UK shipping, with electric propulsion playing a smaller role relatively.

Despite alternative fuels being expected to play a more significant role, research commissioned by the Government estimates that UK ports are still likely to see total electricity demand increase significantly by 2050.

Electricity demand

The research explains that a significant increase in electricity demand in ports would require ports to invest in charging infrastructure and potentially to apply for increased capacity from the electricity network.

The research also explored the barriers to port electrification and identified potential barriers including split incentives to invest and coordination failures between ports and the shipping industry; imperfect information on abatement options; existing infrastructure and onboard technologies; the cost of capital; and regulatory constraints.

Mr Simmonds added the BPA had noted “the forecasts in this document that set out some possibly enormous growth in demands for energy that may need to flow through ports, whether it be shore-side power or bunkering cleaner fuels and we relish the challenge of tackling these in the coming months and years”.

Now that the air quality strategy guidance has been published, following the publication of the Clean Air Strategy in January, ports within scope will be asked to make initial commitments by 31 December 2019 and to produce their plans in June 2020. Guidance was originally due to be published by spring, with ports required to have their own strategies by the end of 2019.

A further consultation to increase the uptake of low carbon fuels will also take place next year.

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