The Union of Greek Shipowners (UGS) has voiced its support for the Greek Prime Minister’s call for a European research centre for alternative marine fuels and technologies - and says it ‘stands ready to engage’.

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis made the proposal to European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen earlier this week where he highlighted the importance of research and development into maritime decarbonisation.

Commenting, the President of the UGS, Theodore Veniamis, said the union supported Mitsotakis’ proposal and highlighted Greece’s ‘proven maritime know-how’ and ‘long-standing experience and scientific expertise’.

‘We are keen to work with the EU institutions and all interested parties to move Greece’s proposal forward in order to support the major effort required to deliver real environmental benefits along with a sustainable EU shipping sector,’ said Veniamis.

The UGS reiterated its view that technology is currently unavailable at the scale required to deliver substantial reductions in Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions from ships. The union argues that without mature new marine fuels and related technologies available worldwide, the decarbonisation of the sector ‘will not be feasible within the timeframe expected’.

Furthermore, the European Commission’s proposal to extend the EU Emissions Trading System (EU ETS) to international shipping, UGS argues, needs to be effectively in line with the ‘polluter pays’ principle which entails compliance by the commercial operator of the ship. This principle is acknowledged in the context of the Greek Prime Minister’s proposal towards the European Commission.

‘We value the acknowledgement of the importance of maritime transport to the EU and the world at large and the recognition of the role of out-of-sector stakeholders, such as fuel producers and suppliers, commercial operators/charterers, shipyards and engine manufacturers, in providing the shipping industry with the appropriate means for decarbonisation. Without their instrumental contribution, the shipping sector will remain carbon captive and its long-term sustainability will be seriously threatened,’ Veniamis continued. 

‘We also stand ready to cooperate with the international community and all stakeholders at the International Maritime Organization with which Greece has deep ties and trust. Greek shipowners are fully committed to the decarbonisation of our industry as soon as possible and are working proactively towards this goal,’ Veniamis concluded.