European Union ministers have adopted a new declaration to expand LNG as a bunker fuel and support the reduction of greenhouse gases.
The ‘Valletta Declaration' will ensure that support is in place for the roll out of LNG infrastructure across EU member states and delineate political priorities for the EU’s Maritime Transport Policy to support the shipping industry.
“Competitiveness, decarbonisation and digitalisation are the guiding principles that will serve as a basis for the EU's maritime transport policy up to 2020 and beyond. These principles aim to ensure that maritime transport remains an attractive way for transporting goods and people and becomes even more environmentally-friendly. It should also serve as a catalyst for investment and innovation,” an EU spokesperson said, commenting on the recent Valletta Declaration.
Wider harmonization needed
The first stage of work will focus on harmonization of standards for LNG bunkering connectors and procedures for LNG bunkering in European ports designed to make it easier for shipowners to use LNG as a fuel in the run-up to the IMO's 0.5% sulphur cap which starts in 2020.
Relevant EU bodies will also seek to develop strategies that will support capacity building through the construction of LNG bunkering facilities and initiatives that can help demonstrate the benefits of decarbonisation to the shipping sector.
The declaration also highlights the “need for full and swift implementation” of the Blue Belt single transport area for shipping and include a proposed e-Manifest harmonised electronic cargo manifest.
EU to continue ‘reaching out’ to LNG partners
Despite the positive statement from EU ministers in support of LNG fuelling development the signatories also note that a number of significant challenges lie ahead.
“The European maritime sector faces significant challenges and further action is needed to maintain and further develop attractive and smart, safe, social and sustainable quality shipping,” the declaration notes, adding that there is a need to acknowledge “the challenge of global competition and the importance of national taxation regimes and schemes.”
Following the recent decision by the U.S. president to withdraw from the Paris climate accord, the EU signatories of the Valletta Declaration also reiterated support for the agreement and their intention to continue "reaching out to third countries and industry".