The UK government recently launched a clean maritime plan to achieve zero-emission shipping and clean growth for the maritime sector—one of the first countries to do so. A key action is that, by 2025, all new vessels being ordered for use in UK waters are designed with zero-emission propulsion capability. The plan includes a £1m (US$1.2m) competition for innovative approaches to reducing emissions from maritime sources.
The UK had fallen down the pecking order of leadership in the maritime sector due to under-investment and a focus on the mature, slow-growth European market. The hybridisation of ferries, offshore support vessels and shoreside power for military ships is under way in the UK, but other ports in Scandinavia and North America are ahead, having pursued investment in that technology years ago.
Net zero carbon
The plan is needed for the UK to meet its legally binding ambitions to cut carbon emissions to net zero by 2050 and to improve air quality. It is being driven by an active maritime minister—a new position in the UK government, but one that was sorely needed. The plan should encourage innovation in ship design, attract investment to the UK and help to decarbonise the supply chain.
The scale of action required is huge, but the immense business opportunity could make it happen. The plan estimates that the global market for maritime emission reduction technologies could reach US$15bn per year by 2050, potentially resulting in economic benefits to the UK of US$690m per year by that time.
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