Minister Ola Elvestuen

Blue business sailing into green territory

Last week, the Asia-Europe Meeting Conference “Green Shipping. Blue Business. Moving Forward Together.” was held in conjunction with Singapore Maritime Week 2018. The conference was a Norwegian initiative organised in cooperation with Germany, Singapore and the Philippines.

Norway’s Minister of Climate and Environment, Mr Ola Elvestuen, opened the conference and underlined the importance of international cooperation: “Some say oceans divide - we say oceans unite. Green shipping will be the key to our partnership in the coming years”.

The timing of the conference was impeccable; just two weeks before, the International Maritime Organisation and its 173 member states agreed to set goals for reducing greenhouse gases – one of the main targets being a 50% reduction by 2050 compared to 2008. Mr Kitack Lim, the IMO Secretary General, elaborated on the historic agreement in his opening remarks. Singapore’s Senior Minister of State for Transport and Health, Dr Lam Pin Min said the following on green solutions: “We need to foster collaboration and partnership, between governments, industry, research institutions and academia."

Senior Minister of State Dr Lam was not the only one to point out the importance of cooperation between government and private companies. Mr Olav Akselsen, Director General of Shipping and Navigation from the Norwegian Maritime Authority said “the role of the IMO cannot be understated. Exchange of ideas and best practices are the key to green shipping”. Mr Reinhard Klingen, Director-General of Waterways and Shipping in the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure of Germany proclaimed that “the future is indeed green”, and Mr Peter Thomson, UN Special Envoy for the Oceans agreed: “An era of sustainability and renewability is upon us”. The high-level conference fostered great discussions around the green future for the blue economy, and continued with a reality check, discussing the present challenges, options and the willingness to change.

Another topic explored was the result of combining innovation, technology and commercial solutions. Ms Kristin Nordal, Head of External Communication, Yara International ASA and Mr Ketil O. Paulsen, Technology General Manager, Kongsberg Maritime, gave an introduction to the “Tesla of the Seas”, Yara Birkeland. This autonomous container ship is due to launch in 2019, fulfilling the vision of zero emission. Yara Birkeland will be the first autonomous ship in the world, and will fundamentally change short sea shipping.

After two days packed with wise words full of hope for the future, State Secretary Daniel Bjarmann-Simonsen from the Norwegian Ministry of Trade and Fisheries had the honour of giving the chair summary. The State Secretary ended on a positive note, with the following closing remarks: “I can’t think of a better business case than saving the world. We need to move the maritime industry forward, in the right direction: a green direction.”