Maersk Unveils Ambitious European Policy Vision for 2024-2029

In a comprehensive policy document titled “Ahead of the Tide: Maersk’s European Policy Vision for 2024-2029,” Maersk has laid out a series of recommendations aimed at enhancing the competitiveness, sustainability, and security of the European maritime sector. The document outlines strategic measures across various domains, including environmental sustainability, port security, and labour rights, reflecting Maersk’s commitment to driving forward-looking policies in the maritime industry.

Environmental Sustainability and Decarbonization

One of the central themes of Maersk’s policy vision is the transition towards greener maritime operations. The company advocates for maintaining the “Fit for 55” level of ambition, which aims to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by at least 55% by 2030. Maersk recommends the inclusion of container port terminals in the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS) to encourage cleaner equipment and more sustainable operations.

A significant proposal is the introduction of an end-date for fossil fuel-only new builds in Europe. This measure, coupled with support for ambitious mid-term measures at the International Maritime Organization (IMO), including a pricing mechanism like the Green Balance Mechanism, aims to accelerate the shift towards low-carbon fuels. Maersk also calls for a revision of the EU ETS to ensure full alignment with FuelEU Maritime and accurate pricing of GHG emissions by incorporating all relevant GHGs and Life Cycle Assessments (LCAs).

Promoting Green Fuels

Maersk emphasises the need for policy measures to bridge the cost gap between conventional fossil fuels and sustainable alternatives. The document highlights the potential of the EU’s Sustainable Aviation Fuels (SAF) mechanism, which uses allowances to cover part of the cost difference between conventional and green fuels. A similar design could be applied to the maritime sector, with up to 20 million allowances reserved for promoting green initiatives. This approach could significantly boost the production and uptake of green fuels in and around Europe.

Sustainable Ship Recycling

The document underscores the importance of sustainable ship recycling practices. Maersk supports the inclusion of recycling facilities in non-OECD countries on the EU’s approved list, provided they adhere to European standards. This move is expected to elevate global recycling practices and foster a competitive playing field where environmental stewardship is rewarded irrespective of geography. The need for safe and environmentally sound ship recycling is anticipated to increase in the coming years.

Enhancing EU Competitiveness Through Green Funding Initiatives

Maersk’s policy vision emphasises the need for the EU to recalibrate its funding mechanisms to support the green technology sector. The establishment of a one-stop-shop for EU funding is critical to streamline the application process, making it more accessible for companies in the green fuel sector. Simplifying access to funding will accelerate the development of green technologies and ensure that Europe remains an attractive hub for investment and innovation.

The document calls for a strategic shift from “one-off” funding for pilot projects to providing sustained financial support over the crucial development phases of the green fuel industry. This approach would guarantee that funding is not merely a temporary boost but a steady foundation that nurtures the green fuel sector’s growth, ensuring its global competitiveness.

Land Transportation: Electrification and Policy Measures

Maersk’s policy vision also addresses the decarbonisation of land transportation, particularly focusing on heavy-duty vehicles (HDVs). The company recommends several policy measures to prioritise the electrification of trucks and keep green fuels out of the scope of HDV regulations. These measures include:

  • Funding and Collaboration: Maersk calls for funding and collaboration with utility providers to improve the grid for charging across the EU. This initiative is crucial to support the widespread adoption of electric trucks and ensure the necessary infrastructure is in place.
  • Carbon Tax and End Date for Fossil Trucks: The document suggests implementing a carbon tax for HDVs or setting an end date for the production of fossil-fuelled trucks. These measures would create a financial incentive for the transition to electric trucks and reduce the reliance on fossil fuels.
  • Stronger Enforcement Mechanisms: Maersk emphasises the need for stronger enforcement mechanisms to ensure that Member States meet their obligations under the Alternative Fuels Infrastructure Regulation (AFIR). This regulation aims to establish a comprehensive network of recharging and refuelling stations across Europe.
 

The implementation of the above measures should, according to the company, accelerate the transition to electric trucks, reduce emissions from land transportation, and enhance the overall sustainability of the logistics sector.

Enhancing Port Security

Security at European ports is another critical area addressed in Maersk’s policy vision. The company recommends several measures to bolster port security, including the utilisation of technology to move sensitive authority functions from high-risk areas and the advancement of container security technology. Strengthening background checks for port personnel and introducing whistleblower tools to enable anonymous tips to authorities are also proposed to reduce contraband risks and uncover illegal activities.

Maersk advocates for the standardisation of EU port security measures to ensure consistent protection against smuggling and other threats across the region. This approach aims to create a more secure and resilient maritime infrastructure.

Labor Rights and Social Dialogue

Maersk’s policy vision also addresses the well-being of maritime professionals. The company calls for active social dialogue at the EU level to ensure seafarers’ voices are heard and considered in policy-making processes. Measures to evaluate and address bullying and harassment on board, share best practices for mental health support, and provide reasonable internet access to improve seafarers’ quality of life are recommended.

The document highlights the importance of updating training programs to align with the industry’s green and digital transitions and increasing efforts to promote gender diversity and inclusion within the maritime sector. Maersk also stresses the need for the EU to lead internationally in updating the Maritime Labour Convention (MLC) to ensure it remains a comprehensive bill of rights for seafarers.

Conclusion

Maersk’s European Policy Vision for 2024-2029 presents a robust framework for advancing the maritime sector’s sustainability, security, and labour rights. By implementing these recommendations, Europe can, according to the company, enhance its competitiveness in the global maritime market while addressing critical environmental and social challenges.

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