UK sets eco targets in ‘Maritime 2050’ report

Maritime 2050 The UK government's Department for Transport has published its ‘Maritime 2050' report. Credit: DoT

In the next 5-15 years the UK government will aims for at least one major port in the UK to have zero-emissions across all its ship-side activity.

Outlining its environment-focused plans in the ‘Maritime 2050’ report, the Department for Transport said that this will include non-road mobile machinery like cranes, as well as ships while docked in port.

The report did not specify which ports are being considered but confirmed that air quality is one of its immediate priorities. Under its short-term priorities, it included the already confirmed plan for major ports to publish port air quality strategies in summer 2019.

Efforts by ports to introduce shoreside electricity were acknowledged, including Portsmouth (Ministry of Defence), Fraserburgh and Brodick. The report also noted ports engaged in LNG bunkering, including Southampton, Teesport and Immingham. Additionally, green incentive schemes were noted, with the Port of London Authority’s (PLA) named as an example.

Climate change responsibility

Ports have a responsibility to plan for climate change and work on finding ways to manage the problems that climate change could bring, the DoT said.

Increased flooding of ports from tidal surges, more frequent extreme weather events and coastal erosion are predicted. This means the flow of goods into and out of the UK as well as connectivity to road and rail infrastructure is at risk of disruption in the coming years, it stressed.

“As private entities, ports have a responsibility to plan and respond to their unique vulnerabilities and improve resilience of their estates,” the DoT commented.

However, speaking specifically about climate change and sea levels, the report acknowledged that “even with increased investment in flood defences or other adaptations, ports rely on other parts of local transport infrastructure for their hinterland connectivity.” This means the maritime sector needs to have a key role in a coordinated effort globally to prepare for and mitigate practical impacts on the logistics system and coastal communities as a whole.

As part of its ports and infrastructure plan, the DoT said: “Continued investment and planning ahead to future proof or retrofit infrastructure will ensure ports and harbours are ready to adapt to future changes.”

It acknowledged that in recent year ports have undertaken actions to increase their resilience. Ports along the UK’s east coast have established multiple working groups to prepare for the risk posed by storm surges and are also in regular contact with the Met Office to obtain bespoke and long-range weather forecasts.

Most ports are now also participating in local resilience fora and conducting individual risk assessments of their port estates.

Government will work with ports to review their understanding and implementation of climate change adaptation measures, the report stated.

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