Minister of Maritime Affairs and Insular Policy, G. Plakiotakis, writes for the 5th Cretan Energy Conference – International Energy Exhibition of Greece
The history, culture and economy of Greece are inextricably linked to sea and shipping. Shipping has constantly and substantially supported economic development bringing at the same time added value to all connected sectors.
Though the country accounts for only 0.16% of the world’s population, Greek ship-owners own 21% of global tonnage and, post Brexit, 58% of the EU’s controlled tonnage. The Greek maritime cluster comprises more than 1.440 shipping companies engaged in ocean-going shipping and further 3,700 maritime companies active mainly in cabotage and short-sea shipping, highlighting Piraeus as a maritime center of global range and a centre of excellence in ship-management. These companies, having under their management over 4.700 ships, greek-flagged and greek-owned, offer direct employment to almost 18.000 employees and are the driving force for the entire maritime cluster, which in turn offers directly and indirectly quality jobs to nearly 200.000 people. For 2020, the abovementioned operations and synergies contributed to our economy more than 13.8 billion Euros.
We live in challenging times and it is the case that the pandemic derailed or rescheduled our priorities, as happened all around the globe. In this respect the main priority for 2021 is to put strong foundations for the recovery of all economic activities, including shipping.
The maritime environment is our common, global heritage. And shipping is a global industry. The IMO Initial GHG Strategy needs to be implemented as a matter of urgency, with focus on the practical implementation of the short-term technical and operational measures to be adopted by the IMO mid-June. The next step, to start already within the current year 2021 is to create the necessary preconditions that will enable the decarbonization of shipping, as the ultimate objective of both the European Green Deal and the IMO GHG Strategy.
This pathway necessarily involves the development and deployment of new fuels and propulsion technologies, suitable for each and every shipping mode. The most important sectors in Greece are, first, ocean going shipping and Ro-Ro passengers, which need to provide frequent, regular and quality connections to an extensive network of more than 400 routes serving 115 inhabited islands.
In both sectors, reduction of GHG emissions is a distinct challenge and I believe that the business partnerships to be explored and eventually established will provide very useful solutions. The same is true as regards more sustainable and efficient port operations, as well as the fuel supply industry, which will need to provide safe alternative low carbon fuels not only in the EU but worldwide.