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Cleaner And Greener Maritime Transport Will Help Keep European Citizens Healthy, MEPs Stress

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MEPs have voted in favour of a resolution on technical and operational measures to promote more efficient and cleaner maritime transport, citing that the emissions from international shipping are set to only increase unless mitigated.

The Parliament has emphasised that climate-neutral transition should be followed with a substantial emissions reduction, clean ports and banning the use of heavy fuel oil.

Currently, international shipping emits around 940 million tonnes of CO2 each year, responsible for around 2.5% of global greenhouse gas emissions.

MEPs are thus advocating for a climate-neutral transition on the maritime transport sector by 2050, building on a previous call on shipping companies to achieve a 40% reduction in emissions by 2030 as well as the inclusion of maritime transport in the EU Emissions Trading Systems.

Through this resolution, MEPs hope to push the Commission into providing proper funding, research and innovation in clean technologies and fuels to help transition the maritime transport sector into climate neutrality.

All of this is to create what MEPs have stressed to be an urgent health and environmental need to establish sulphur and nitrogen emission control areas in the Mediterranean which could be extended to all EU seas.

The resolution, which passed by 453 votes for, 92 against and 154 abstentions, demands the gradual phase-out of heavy fuel oil usage in ships, the promotion of alternative fuel usage and paving the way to making the maritime sector greener as ways to help cut shipping emissions.

In order to reach a greener maritime shipping sector, the main factor will have to be greener ports. Reducing the impact of shipping on air quality (and thus citizens’ health) is crucial to achieving and can only be done by lowering emissions in ports.

In Malta, this problem is currently being tackled by the EU-funded ‘Clean Air Project’ in the Grand Harbour, which seeks to overhaul the harbour with environmental technology – such as cold ironing and shore-side electricity.

Thus, it would retrofit the Grand Harbour into having improved air quality and reduced emissions. Other ports in Malta, such as the Freeport, are also being researched on how similar Clean Air Projects can be implemented.

Projects like this will be able to fit into the MEP’s calls on the Commission for drawing up a proper strategy on zero-emission ports, including making these clean and green ports are far more common sight than they currently are.

MEPs have also noted that other measures could significantly contribute to the decarbonisation of the maritime sector and promote the European Green Deal.

Examples that have been put forth by MEPs for the Commission, ship-owners and ship-operators include the digitalisation and automation of ports and ships, vessel speed optimisation and innovation in hydrodynamics.


This article is part of a content series called Ewropej. This is a multi-newsroom initiative part-funded by the European Parliament to bring the work of the EP closer to the citizens of Malta and keep them informed about matters that affect their daily lives. This article reflects only the author’s view. The European Parliament is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains.


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An avid lover of food, music, film and gaming with a staunch belief in a greener future.

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