ZVT Radio: Brian Simpson

The importance of sustainable shipping

Listen to the interview with Brian Simpson, European Coordinator for Motorways of the Sea, or read the transcript below.

Mr Brian Simpson, European Coordinator for Motorways of the Sea. Welcome to the Zero Vision Tool radio, interviewing at the conference Motorways of the Sea in Gothenburg. Can you please introduce yourself and your role here at the Motorways of the Sea conference?

Certainly, I’m Brian Simpson. I’m the coordinator for the European Commission for the Motorways of the Sea, which is one of the Priority Ten-T projects and my role here is to facilitate, listen and take back some of the ideas that we hear from the stakeholders and put them in the programme for the Motorways of the Sea. In particular in Gothenburg we’re here to look at alternative fuels. And in that sense, we’re very keen to listen to what shipping companies like Stena have got to say.

You have chosen the reduction of emissions as a first priority of your mandate. Can you please explain what that means?

Yes, the IMO, in their infinite wisdom, sometime ago decided to make the Baltic a low sulphur area, and to that extent, they legislated that it would be 0.1 per cent. That kind of forced the Baltic to the forefront of finding alternative fuels. Now we know there are two alternative fuels and one course of action that we can support. One is methanol, which Stena use. One is liquefied natural gas and the other is scrubbers. And we are determined to try and bring the three together to see which is best for which port and which is best for which shipping company and help them develop that into new ships with those types of fuel.

What’s your view on shipping for development of the European region?

Shipping is vast. It’s still 48 per cent of our internal trade, I think, that is still done by ships. And yet we in the European Union never recognised until two years ago that the sea was so important. It was tend to be left, we put the sea there and everybody got on with it and the effort that was put into doing the land transport was great compared to what was put into sea transport.

We have decided that the sea now needs the priority it deserves and not forgetting the land transport because, as I said in my speech, it’s no good us building beautiful ports and then ten kilometres outside the port it all grinds to a halt. We need to work on that as well but it’s given a new function, a new face if you like, to shipping as part of Motorways of the Sea. And that’s why our third priority is maritime in the logistics chain whilst we put so much importance on that.

The subject of your opening speech was the importance of sustainable shipping. Can you please give us some words from your speech?

Well, the important bit of that is, is the sustainability. Because shipping cannot go on the way it’s going in the environment. As I said, the IMO, whilst it caused a few ructions, the IMO sulphur directive, it has made us focus our attention and concentrate on what we’re doing on getting our emissions down. I am absolutely convinced that the IMO will make the whole of Europe, or Europe and the IMO, will make the whole of Europe low sulphur so the more you do now, the easier it is for the rest of Europe.

And that’s why I firmly believe, I think we’re preparing the way for Europe to be, European waters to be, low sulphur. And what is going on here in the Baltic is encouraging, but when you consider the whole of the Greek, for instance, ferry fleet, has not been touched, the whole of the Mediterranean has not been touched, the Atlantic arc, the Far East, we’re just touching the iceberg. I want us to be at the forefront at developing these alternative technologies.

Thank you.