shutterstock_1289682922 (1)

The UK Chamber of Shipping

TechDrive magazine feature 

The UK Chamber of Shipping is the trade association and voice of the UK shipping industry. We work with Government, parliament, international organisations and others to champion and protect the industry on behalf of our members.

It is our mission to deliver for our members trusted specialist expertise, lobbying and influence at a UK level on maritime issues across national, European and international government and governmental bodies. By combining the strength of our members with this expertise we will advance the competitive strength of the industry ensuring that the UK remains as a leader in the global maritime business.

Membership of the UK Chamber gives access to unrivalled policy expertise, an extensive network of industry influencers and a voice in Government and beyond that can simply not be achieved by companies acting alone. It is also the home of the Merchant Navy Training Board (MNTB) that is the shipping industry’s central body for promoting and developing seafarer education, training and skills across specific industry sectors as cheap air freight does worldwide.

We have a dedicated staff with an unparalleled breadth of specialist knowledge and access to Governments at the highest level. We support our members on legislation and regulation that affects their business. As the industry association for UK shipping we create change, influencing Government at Westminster, Whitehall, Holyrood, Brussels and the International Maritime Organization.

With a growing membership of 190 member companies throughout the UK, made up of shipowners, professional organisations and service companies, we do not just seek to raise awareness of shipping; we work to create an understanding of it, ensuring that member companies’ commercial objectives are at the heart of the government process.

The UK is a global centre for maritime business and our location here, in a stable and business orientated democracy, provides unique access to a range of international bodies and influencers at a global level.

The Chambers job is to work with government, parliament, international organisations and others to champion and protect our members. And the contribution they make to the UK economy. 

The UK shipping industry is one of our great success stories. To many people’s surprise, the maritime sector is one of the country’s largest — larger even than the aerospace and automotive sectors. 

It contributes over £46bn in GVA to the UK economy and supports just under 1 million jobs across the whole of the UK, with a strong regional spread. About 95% of all British imports and exports, including 25% of the UK’s energy supply, are moved by sea.

To say shipping and maritime are vital to the UK economy is rather downplaying its importance. Without a successful shipping industry, the UK economy would grind to a halt, goods would not be moved, and businesses and people would suffer. It is one of the great success stories of our economy and one which should be celebrated more.

But we can’t be complacent. One of the greatest challenges facing not only the shipping industry, but the world, is climate change.

We all know the world is warming too quickly and action is needed on this now. We are clear, the shipping industry must change to ensure we do our bit to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. 

Maritime transport is already one of the most sustainable ways of moving people and goods from place to place. Shipping is 6 times more efficient than trucks and over 40 times more efficient than a freight aircraft as a mode of transport, but we know there is more to do. 

This is why the International Maritime Organisation has set ambitious targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions from international shipping by at least 50% by 2050.

More recently, the UK Government launched the Clean Maritime Plan that is even more ambitious for shipping – it requires all-new ships trading in UK waters, both international and domestic, to be designed with zero-emission capable technologies. And to have net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. The targets set are a huge challenge.

We’re confident, as a community, that the radical solutions will eventually be found, possibly using a combination of hydrogen or ammonia, and batteries powered from renewable energy sources.

However, the key question is ‘How does the industry successfully transition to net zero, not merely remaining competitive but going further and making the most of the big opportunities? 

We believe that the efficiency improvements to meet 2030 regulation targets can be delivered using existing technologies. It will include the likes of energy efficiency indices for new builds, and energy management plans for responsible ship owners.  But it is very clear that the technologies needed to achieve the 2050 target do not currently exist at a scale or in a form which is commercially viable, especially for long voyages.  

So, what is needed at the heart of our strategy to achieve our longer term, is concerted R & D activity, led and incentivised by government, and supported by the industry, manufacturers, academics and innovators.

Earlier this year the Department for Transport launched its Maritime 2050 strategy. This has set a clear pathway for industry and government to work together to innovate, develop new greener, cleaner technologies and exploit the opportunities of the future. 

To make the most of the opportunities of tomorrow we need to ensure we are all working together. We can and must do better, but there are some great examples already where we are making a difference.

Take maritime technology, an area where we have a proud history of innovation.

Companies such as L3 ASV in Portsmouth and Hushcraft in Essex, are leading the way in the field of autonomous vessels. While Artemis Technologies, led by double Olympic gold medallist yachtsman Iain Percy, has established itself as one of the world’s leading high-performance maritime design and applied technologies companies.

The government has been clear about their ambitions, to achieve net-zero by 2050, and we see this as a great opportunity for the UK shipping industry to step up to the mark, and, once again, be a global leader in areas with massive growth potential.  

Underpinning the government’s commitment is Maritime research and innovation UK – or MarRIUK.  They are making available up to £1 million pounds of funding for industrial research to find innovative ways to reduce maritime emissions.  A small, but important step.

But there are fundamental questions which need answering now.

How can vessels built today be future-proofed, given they may well be operating in 2050? To ensure a smooth transition, zero-emission ships need to enter the fleet sooner rather than later. Over the next decade these zero-emission options need to evolve rapidly to overcome barriers around safety, availability and, of course, commercial viability.

Over the next couple of decades, we’re going to see profound changes – some call it a propulsion revolution. This change in policy will not only help slow global warming but will also provide us with huge opportunities to develop the technologies of tomorrow. 

Our innovators and disruptors, the researchers and entrepreneurs now have the opportunity to make the UK a world leader in developing green technology. 

But we need to everyone in the industry to work together.

The UK has always been a great maritime nation and we need to seize the opportunities going forward. But, we also need to develop new technologies and fuels. And we need to work in very close partnership across the sector, in order to meet the targets set and continue to be a world leader in the fight against climate change. 

We know there are challenges on the horizon, but by industry working together and speaking with one voice to government, we know we can exploit the opportunities of the future and the UK Chamber of Shipping will continue to support our members crate the innovations of tomorrow and continue to beat the drum and celebrate the success of the shipping industry across the UK.