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The first week of September saw over 70 researchers, academics and policy-makers from Europe and other parts of the world come together in Gothenburg, Sweden for the second Shipping & the Environment – From Regional to Global Perspectives conference. The event, which took place at the Wallenberg Conference Center on 4-6 September, was jointly organised by CSHIPP, The Gothenburg Air and Climate Network (GAC), the Surface Ocean – Lower Atmosphere Study (SOLAS), Chalmers University of Technology, IVL Swedish Environmental Research Institute and the BONUS secretariat. The main focus of the three days was on the environmental impacts of shipping and the policy measures and abatement strategies for cleaner and more sustainable maritime transportation.

Simon Ng (Business Environment Council, HK), James Corbett (University of Delaware, US) and Markus Helavuori (HELCOM Secretariat, FI) discussing the relationship between science and maritime policies.

The first day of the conference, organised by CSHIPP, centered on policy options for sustainable shipping. The day kicked off by a Science to Policy workshop moderated by Florent Nicolas and Markus Helavuori from HELCOM for invited participants. The objective of the workshop was to bring together stakeholders and experts from different areas to discuss the needs and next steps towards developing clean shipping-related HELCOM recommendations in the Baltic Sea Region. The discussions of the workshop focused on three topical issues in the field of clean shipping: scrubber water, biofouling, and shore power development. These topics were discussed from the point of view of current situation and development needs for the future. The discussions were fruitful and brought up various issues, ranging from economic incentives to standards and regulatory approaches at both local and global level, and the general need to raise awareness. The results of the workshop will be submitted later to the HELCOM Maritime Working Group.

Science to Policy workshop in action

The first day continued with a CSHIPP organised Symposium of Scenarios and Policy Options for Sustainable Shipping. The first keynote speaker of the Symposium and the conference was James Corbett,  professor of marine science and policy at the University of Delaware. In his presentation, Shipping and environment: Science and Policy for Insight and Discovery, professor Corbett discussed developments such as cleaner fuels, higher energy prices and carbon-neutral supply chains which the world can expect to see in the future. At the same time, he emphasised that there will also be various political and economic developments that may surprise us. This will highlight the role and importance of innovations and adaptive behaviour. The second keynote of the day was delivered by Anita Mäkinen, Chief Adviser to the Director General of Maritime Sector at the Finnish Transport and Communications Agency. In her presentation, Ms. Mäkinen discussed how regionally recognised problems can be developed into global solutions with scientific assistance. This can be achieved by, for example, utilising existing regulatory frameworks or by forming public-private partnerships. The third keynote speaker of the Symposium was Simon Ng, Director of Policy & Research of Business Environment Council in Hong Kong, who gave an insightful presentation on the experiences of ship emissions control policymaking in Hong Kong. According to Mr. Ng, cross-sector stakeholder engagement has been crucial for the development and industry commitment. 

James Corbett, Irene Del Barrio Alvarellos, Huan Liu, Per S. Daling, Anita Mäkinen, Simon Ng and moderator Erik Fridell taking part in the panel discussion.

The Symposium continued with oral session presentations on topics such as economic evaluation of the impacts of shipping, the potential of ammonia as marine fuel, compliance and port air quality features of ship fuel switching regulation in China, and environmental impact assessment of operational shipping in the Baltic Sea region. The day was concluded with a discussion panel Policy Measures for Sustainable Shipping which gathered all the keynote speakers of the conference to exchange their views on what kind of policy measures are needed, what are the main topics to tackle now and in the future, and what should be improved in terms of policy-making processes and frameworks. Most panellists agreed that the future hold many unknowns but also developments which can be anticipated and acted upon by policy-makers. The need for harmonisation between different regulatory bodies, organisations, frameworks and conventions was raised as one of the key issues that should be improved.

Huan Liu kicking off her keynote.

The second day of Shipping & the Environment II conference began with a session on emissions and abatement measures. Keynote presentation from SINTEF senior research scientist Per S. Daling focused on weathering behaviour and oil spill response options for “new generation” or low sulphur marine fuel oils. This was followed by a shared keynote on compliance monitoring in California and US by professor Johan Mellqvist from Chalmers University of Technology and air pollution specialist Alexander C. Barber from California Air Resource Board. The keynotes were followed by an oral session with presentations focused on emissions abatement from various other angles. The afternoon of the second day was dedicated to atmospheric processes with a keynote on shipping and atmosphere in Anthropocene by associate professor Huan Liu from Tsinghua University, and various other presentations on shipping emissions and air quality. The day was concluded with a poster session and a conference dinner.

Networking during coffee break.

The final day of the conference centered on the theme marine impacts with keynote by Irene Del Barrio Alvarellos from European Environment Agency’s Water and Marine group on the status of Europe’s marine environment affected by shipping and ports. This was followed by another keynote presentation on shipping’s underwater noise impacts by Thomas Folegot, the CEO of Quiet-Oceans. As was the case during the previous two days, the keynotes were followed by various other insightful oral presentations on the topic.

So what did the organisers and the audience make of the three days they spent in Gothenburg? It seems that the conference succeeded in delivering what it originally set up to achieve, i.e. to provide a forum where the progress made in understanding of the impacts of shipping on the environment is discussed by addressing a wide range of topics and perspectives. From CSHIPP’s point of view, the discussions of the Science to Policy workshop and conference as a whole gave valuable feedback on policy and other measures needed to improve the state of sustainable shipping, both in the Baltic Sea region and globally. The discussions indicated that carefully considered regulatory measures are needed at both local and global level. Regulatory approaches can nudge development to desired direction and they will help to create a level playing field for all. At the same time, new technical solutions and economic incentives are needed to tackle the environmental problems caused by shipping. This kind of insight and information is important to have and pass on to CSHIPP’s target groups. It was also truly great to have so many participants with different backgrounds sharing their expertise with each other which is very much what the platform collaboration is all about.

Audience of Shipping & the Environment II conference