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European Dredging Association Annual General Meet-ing and Conference Focuses on Global CO2 Emissions and Climate Change

Left, the first speaker, Alistair Hull from the International Chamber of Shipping, with the moderator, Pieter van der Klis.

Left, the first speaker, Alistair Hull from the International Chamber of Shipping, with the moderator, Pieter van der Klis.

Left to right, Peter van de Klis, EuDA Environmental Commission; Heiko Kunst from the European Commis-sion, and Harry Zontag, Netherlands Ministry of Infrastructure and Environment.

European Dredging Association Secretary General Paris Sansoglou explains the position of the European dredg-ers regarding CO2 emissions.

The 2016 Conference and Annual General Meeting of the European Dredging Association (EuDA) was held at the Stanhope Hotel Brussels, Belgium on November 15.  According to Paris Sansoglou, EuDA’s Secretary General, “Our conferences try to bring timely topics to the attention of our members. The theme of this year’s Conference ‘Global CO2 Emissions: New Business Opportunities for the European Dredgers?’ is clearly something on the minds of those in the maritime industries.”

Some 65 people assembled from various European Union member states to attend the meeting. This included representatives of the major European dredging contractors, members of the European Commission, and others from related maritime and port industries and national governments.

“Recent political initiatives are aimed at preventing the threat of excessive climate change, with a particular focus on global CO2 emissions reduction targets and maritime transport. Shipping needs to and is willing to contribute its share to the global CO2 emissions reduction efforts like any other fossil energy consuming sector. However, maritime transport – the lifeblood of modern society – cannot be disconnected from global economic development and prosperity. It is a catalyst, delivering through seaborne trade energy, food and commodities worldwide. Although we may not see dredges as ‘shipping,’ the regulations do and dredging vessels are impacted by these same regulations.

“Consequently, following the entry into force of the Paris Agreement on November 5, 2016, and the recent landmark decisions in IMO MEPC 70 (Global Data Collection System, roadmap), the European Dredging Association felt it was important that international shipping actors and European legislators have a platform to enumerate the actions they are taking to tackle CO2 emissions from shipping. That was the goal of the EuDA 2016 Annual Conference.”

Since the Kyoto Protocol of 1992, the political wheels have been turning to prevent the threat from excessive climate change. The main attention and efforts have focused on the biggest anthropogenic source of greenhouse 
gas (GHG) emissions: CO2 emissions. The EuDA conference considered performance and efficiency measures for ships and the absolute emission targets set at the Paris, France, climate summit. At the Paris Conference of the Parties (COP21) of the Climate Change Convention a year ago, in December 2015, politicians agreed to set the absolute global target for the rise of the Earth temperature to 1.5°C and to take differentiated actions at the national level and the sector level. Among these sec-tors, transportation, including dredging vessels, is a significant source of CO2 emissions and has to contribute to the global reduction efforts.

Moderator Pieter van der Klis, engineering manager at Van Oord and also chair of the EuDA Environmental Commission, introduced the first speakers of the meeting. Alistair Hull, technical director of International Chamber of Shipping presented an “Overview of the Inter-national Maritime Organization’s Initiatives to Reduce CO2 Emissions from Ships.” He was followed by Heiko Kunst, policy officer in Unit B3 for International Carbon Market, Aviation and Maritime at the European Commission – Directorate Climate, who presented an “Over-view of the of the European Union’s Initiatives 
to reduce CO2 emissions from ships.”

Harry Zondag from the Netherlands Rijkswaterstaat, Ministry of Infrastructure and Environment, followed with a description of the Dutch initiative known as “The CO2 Performance Scale.” Zondag explained the Rijkswaterstaat three-pronged approach: “We have a short term goal to reduce CO2 emission by 20 percent in 2020 as compared to 2009, we have an effort to improve energy efficiency, and we follow a policy of seeking sustainable procurement in all our public works.”

Wrapping up the meeting, Paris Sansoglou presented on, “Global CO2 Emissions: Possible Solutions from the European Dredgers.” 

“Although shipping is the most environmentally friendly and energy efficient mode of mass transport, on a ton-mile basis, it also needs to contribute its share to the global CO2 emissions reduction efforts,” Sansoglou said. “As members of the shipping community, European dredgers continuously work on reducing their emissions, by improving fuel efficiency of their equipment through ship design, better performing, more efficient engines and other technologies, and by improving their best practices to optimize fuel consumption during operations.”

Sansoglou also reflected on the possibility of complementing actions on emissions  reductions with actions on atmospheric CO2 concentrations. One of the key messages that  became apparent at the conference is that most politicians are committed to “absolute” reduction targets and the means to their goal are “relative” measures (CO2 emissions). To achieve these goals, requires a complementary  approach as well that reduces the concentrations of atmospheric CO2. Such a complementary approach is the use of Blue Carbon habitats, that is, natural carbon sinks, to capture  atmospheric CO2, where it can be stored for the long term. 

Sansoglou emphasized, “With their expertise, European dredgers can contribute to this Blue Carbon option by creating new or restoring marine habitats. They can build multipurpose waterborne infrastructures that 
would also contribute to the CO2 strategies of the project owners through increased carbon capture and long-term storage of CO2. European industries should pursue their efforts of reducing their CO2 footprint, but should also consider integrating Blue Carbon components into their strategies.

“European dredgers have estimated that to be totally carbon neutral, they would need to restore Blue Carbon habitats in an area the size of Luxembourg—of course unaffordable at a company level but worth integrating in the long-term carbon strategy of environmentally conscious sectors.”

An open discussion concluded the meeting, which was followed by a networking luncheon, where the conversations on CO2 reduction and other issues continued.

The Brussels-based organization was founded in 1993 as a non-profit industry organization for European dredging companies and related organizations to interface with the various European Union’s institutions as well as some international organizations such as the United Nations’ International Maritime Organization (IMO), HELCOM (Baltic Marine Environment Protection Commission - Helsinki Commission) and the International Labor Organization (ILO). EuDA members employ approximately 25,000 people directly “on land and on-board of the vessels” and more than 48,300 people indirectly (through the suppliers and services companies). The combined fleet of EuDA’s members counts approximately 750 seaworthy European Union-flagged vessels. All presentations from the conference are avail-able at the website of the European Dredging  Association. 

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