Last Updated on Thursday, 23 June, 2022 at 2:08 pm by Andre Camilleri
Judge Emeritus Joseph Zammit McKeon is the Chairman of the Malta Maritime Forum
In the months and years to come, the Maritime Industry will continue to face challenges and opportunities posed by Climate Change. Within this time-frame, decarbonisation is the Industry’s direction of travel as it aims to expand in a sustainable fashion not merely because it is being expected to do so by International regulatory frameworks and ESG considerations but because the industry itself is a victim of grave, climate change consequences. Rising sea and air temperatures, shifting sea levels and the frequency of extreme marine events like tropical storms and cyclones are most devastating to the operations of the Industry.
Nevertheless, European and International obligations are gradually being phased in, in an effort to meet ambitious carbon-neutrality targets. Added to carbon-neutrality goals is a new objective aimed at phasing out Europe’s dependence on Russian fossil fuels. Given the extraordinary circumstances the world has experienced and continues to experience since the past two years, it is clear that the Maritime Industry requires the right dose of encouragement from the authorities, in terms of targeted finance and resource support. The authorities, particularly the European Union, must also ensure that its implementation timelines are aligned with competitiveness considerations.
Conscious of the sensitive timing and policy considerations, the Malta Maritime Forum, in collaboration with Bank of Valletta, is taking the initiative to keep members of the maritime community abreast of the latest developments emerging from Brussels with respect to the Commission’s Fit for 55 Package, the REPowerEU Plan and latest ongoing negotiations on the European and International front.
Next month, in fact, (21st July) it shall be holding a consultation session for its members with the dual purpose of providing information through expert speakers and collect feedback directly from industry representatives.
Fit for 55
- As part of the European Green Deal, with the European Climate Law, the EU has set itself a binding target of achieving climate-neutrality by 2050. This poses direct effects on the Industry as it is said to require a 90% reduction in overall transport emissions by 2050. As an intermediate step towards climate-neutrality, the EU has raised its 2030 climate ambition, committing to cutting emissions by at least 55% by 2030. The EU is working on the revision of its climate, energy and transport-related legislation under the so-called ‘Fit for 55 package’ in order to align current laws with the 2030 and 2050 ambitions. A number of new initiatives are also included in the package and will be tackled in the Seminar.
- At the same time, the Commission’s REPowerEU Plan was announced in direct response to the global energy market disruption caused by the war in Ukraine. There is a double urgency to transform Europe’s energy system ending the EU’s dependence on Russian fossil fuels and in the process achieving further progress in tackling the climate crisis. The measures in the REPowerEU Plan can respond to this ambition, through energy savings, diversification of energy supplies, and accelerated roll-out of renewable energy to replace fossil fuels.
- The green transformation will strengthen economic growth, security, and climate action for Europe and its partners. The Recovery and Resilience Facility is at the heart of the REPowerEU Plan, supporting coordinated planning and financing of cross-border and national infrastructure as well as energy projects and reforms. The Commission proposes to make targeted amendments to the RRF Regulation to integrate dedicated REPowerEU chapters in Member States’ existing Recovery and Resilience Plans.
The political and environmental objectives being set are honourable but onerous on industry, particularly at this sensitive juncture characterised by great uncertainty. It is more than obvious that much more R&D and investment is necessary now and in the coming years to allow the maritime industry to address and respond effectively to the current and future climate and environmental challenges and opportunities, whilst taking into account a safe implementation of technologies and concepts. It is also for this reason, that the MMF has teamed up with its partner Bank of Valletta with a view to inform industry about the various financing opportunities that the Bank is placing on offer in the area of renewable and energy efficiency solutions, green technologies and ESG in general.
As stated above, the Maritime Industry certainly requires every encouragement from the authorities and relevant stakeholders, in terms of targeted finance and resource support. The authorities, particularly the EU, must also ensure that its implementation timelines are aligned with competitiveness considerations. If these safeguards are firmly in place, the Industry is optimistic and enthusiastic about adapting to the new environmental realities through the adoption of innovative, climate-proof technologies that will allow it to fulfil its carbon-neutral ambitions.