Ports key to EU’s connectivity according to the new plan for green mobility

Dec 14 2020

Ports key to EU’s connectivity according to the new plan for green mobility

Last week, the European Commission (EC) presented its Sustainable and Smart Mobility Strategy, accompanied by an Action Plan of 82 initiatives, meant to lay the foundation for the green and digital transformation of the EU transport.

According to the document, all transport modes need to become more sustainable by making green alternatives widely accessible. The result, already outlined in the European Green Deal (EGD), should be a 90% cut in emissions for the transport sector by 2050.

Frans Timmermans, Executive Vice-President for the EGD, said, “To reach our climate targets, emissions from the transport sector must get on a clear downward trend. Today's strategy will shift the way people and goods move across Europe and make it easy to combine different modes of transport in a single journey. We've set ambitious targets for the entire transport system to ensure a sustainable, smart, and resilient return from the COVID-19 crisis.”

What does it mean for ports and the BSR?

According to the strategy, ports are key for EU’s international connectivity, for the European economy, and for their respective regions. In their transition to zero-emission nodes, the best practices followed by the most sustainable ports should become the new normal. Inland and sea ports have a great potential to become new clean energy hubs for integrated electricity systems, hydrogen and other low-carbon fuels, as well as testbeds for waste reuse and the circular economy.
With numerous Baltic ports already leading the charge in setting ambitious emission goals for themselves, this presents a great opportunity to underscore the Baltic Sea region’s (BSR) positioning as the role model for green ports and maritime transport and share their long-established best practices with others.

Within the plan, the EC pledges to propose measures to make ports clean, by incentivizing the deployment of renewable and low-carbon fuels and feeding stationed vessels with renewable power instead of fossil energy, optimization of port calls and through a wider use of smart traffic management. The BSR has a longstanding tradition in being the frontrunner when it comes to solutions related to all these fields, with numerous ports already offering LNG bunkering and shore-power access, as well as sea traffic management initiatives.

The document recognizes the success of already established Emission Control Areas (ECAs), of which there are a number in the BSR. Next region to be covered is the Mediterranean Sea, with plans to start similar work in the Black Sea. This presents yet another opportunity for the BSR to share its know-how and experience with such projects, as there are many challenges to be overcome, both from the side of ports and vessel operators.

As the EGD calls for a substantial part of the 75% of inland freight carried today by road to shift to rail and inland waterways, the plan notes short-sea shipping (SSS) as another viable way to contribute to the greening of freight transport in Europe. Transport by inland waterways and SSS is set to increase by 25% by 2030 and 50% by 2050. This can be coupled with the promise to support the development of zero-emission vessels powered by alternative fuels such as hydrogen or electricity, which can be a feasible option for SSS.

Bogdan Oldakowski, Secretary General, BPO, offered the following comment, “The recently presented Sustainable and Smart Mobility Strategy sets very ambitious goals for whole transport sector in the EU. There are certain efforts requested from the port industry in order to reach EU’s planned climate neutrality by 2050. Baltic ports will proceed to contribute to these goals by continuing their work to deploy new fuel infrastructure for ships. Moreover, they will apply digitalization and new technologies to increase efficiency in energy use and in port services and operations. These actions will lead to the reduction of CO2 emissions and reaching the set climate neutrality goals.”

The document can be downloaded directly from EC’s website under the following link.