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The Union of Greek Shipowners awaits the announcement of the European Commission’s ‘Fit for 55’ Climate Package and will contribute constructively to its objectives

Veniamis E. Theodore, President, Union of Greek Shipowners

The Union of Greek Shipowners (UGS) has been closely following developments at the European Union (EU) and the unfolding of its environmental agenda and, in particular, the European Commission’s (EC) initiatives linked to the European Green Deal climate action, which will be announced on the 14th of July 2021.

The UGS, representing institutionally 58% of European shipping and recognizing the challenges related to the climate change and the technological progress, actively participated in the public consultations of the EC, providing its know-how and experience for the next day of the shipping industry and contributed to the formulation of the views and positions of the shipping industry in these deliberations.

Representing one of the safest, youngest and most technologically advanced fleets in the world, the UGS is firmly committed to the protection of the environment and the decarbonisation of the sector. Towards this end, it has promoted ambitious and at the same time feasible solutions, which not only guarantee true improvement of the industry’s carbon footprint but also safeguard the long-term sustainability of this strategically significant sector with its multiple benefits for the EU and its citizens.

“We are making sure that shipping continues to be among the front runners in the fight against global warming and we stand ready to contribute constructively on the occasion of the imminent announcement of EC’s ‘Fit for 55’ climate package”, the President of the UGS, Mr. Theodore Veniamis, stated. “But we have to be realistic. Shipowners are not the parties that build the ships or the marine engines and they cannot produce marine fuels. In addition, most of the time it is the charterers and not the shipowners that control the commercial operation of the ships, including the fuel purchased and thereby determine their carbon footprint. It is, therefore, of utmost importance that policy makers recognise where the responsibility of the different stakeholders lies in respect of shipping’s decarbonisation and adopt pertinent legislative provisions”.

In any case, given that non-fossil fuels will not be available in sufficient quantities for the new decade, a massive effort in R&D into new fuels and technologies is required to which the international shipping industry has publicly declared its willingness to contribute but which it cannot effect on its own.

Shipping, an international industry, comprising a very large number of private proprietary SMEs and mainly engaged in cross-trading across many different jurisdictions, demands international solutions. Regrettably, the European Union has opted for regional regulatory initiatives rather than pursuing its legitimate goals in the relevant international fora.

“We sincerely hope that the EC’s imminent initiatives will not undermine the global competitiveness and sustainability of the EU shipping industry, an industry that still controls almost 40% of the world’s ocean-going fleet”, Mr. Veniamis concluded.