“Getting fit” for July 14th
On July 14th, the EU Commission is expected to publish twelve proposals as part of its “Fit for 55” package. The port industry is looking forward to knowing what six texts in particular will contain.
Ports are expected to play a significant role in achieving some of the objectives of the Green Deal. They have the potential to evolve into “industrial ecosystems” which represent a fantastic opportunity to attract industries and manufacturing centers into the vicinity of ports. Many port activities and related investments directly or indirectly contribute to making the Green Deal happen. Multimodal logistic infrastructures connecting ports to the hinterland will certainly support the transformation of the role of ports be it on the seaside or on the hinterland side. They will also play an important role in allowing goods to leave ports quickly thus preventing congestion and lowering emissions at terminal yards.
Port terminals have developed ambitious emission reduction targets and large logistics operators are also proactive in their efforts to reduce emissions. However, more needs to be done by other actors of the chain. Even if higher costs of zero carbon transport will be a challenge for the whole freight transport chain, they represent an important step towards climate neutrality. What will also be crucial is the public support to stimulate zero carbon freight transport, incentive schemes, charging and refuelling infrastructure, and mitigation of the GHG impacts of ships, trucks, trains and barges coming to ports.
There are a lot of expectations from the port sector with respect to investments in alternative fuels infrastructure as well as in terms of support to the decarbonization of maritime transport. These expectations should be mirrored by significant financial funding for the needed EU based infrastructure.
If the EU Commission favors the establishment of a dedicated European investment fund that will be based on the revenues from a maritime EU ETS or an emission levy, then it will be important that part of those revenues is reinvested in the European maritime sector to enable the decarbonization of shipping and in infrastructures for the deployment and use of sustainable alternative fuels in ports.
Beyond climate change mitigation, European ports are confronted with other challenges to remain competitive and strengthen their position as industrial clusters creating jobs and contributing in a sustainable and lasting manner to the EU economy and its recovery. European ports cannot alone solve all problems. They need to remain anchored into the reality, particularly regarding investments into additional port capacities. Building new capacities must be correlated to trade growth figures and the effective utilization of existing port capacities by port customers.
In this respect, during the recent event co-hosted by MEP Jutta Paulus and MEP Vera Tax about the impact of big ships, some graphs based on data provided by MDS Transmodal have shown that the declining service frequency in the container sector is unfortunately a reality for many ports which are still lucky to be called at. This means that the number of calls has decreased significantly and whenever port congestion occurs, if one European hub port is full, other ports function as a temporary or exceptional backup. So before pointing out to a lack of port capacities leading to port congestion as the main cause of disruption of the maritime logistics chain, it might be useful to check whether the real disruptive factors do not lie upstream or downstream ports.
Finally, at the moment, European ports are faced with so many expectations, it will be important, prior to any discussion regarding the building of new capacities, to check whether a return on investment for public and private port stakeholders, Member States and wider communities is clearly foreseen. The correlation between investments in port infrastructure and figures regarding trade evolution and the geographical composition of freight remain key parameters to be considered. Proposal on the uptake of renewable and low-carbon fuels in maritime transport – FuelEU Maritime
Revision of the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS), including maritime, aviation and CORSIA as well as a proposal for ETS as own resource.
Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism (CBAM) and a proposal for CBAM as own resource
Revision of the Energy Tax Directive
Amendment to the Renewable Energy Directive to implement the ambition of the new 2030 climate target (RED)
Revision of the Directive on deployment of alternative fuels infrastructure
 glec-framework-20.pdf (feport.eu)
 Maritime transport in the EU: in troubled waters — much ineffective and unsustainable investment