BERLIN (dpa-AFX) - The German government wants to draw up a national action plan for climate-friendly shipping by next spring. There is still a lot to do, said Transport Minister Volker Wissing (FDP) on Tuesday in Berlin at the start of a conceptual phase for the action plan. Wissing spoke of the enormous challenge of making shipping climate-neutral. However, this is also a great opportunity for industrial policy.

State Secretary Susanne Henckel said that results should be presented at the next National Maritime Conference in spring 2025 so that implementation could then begin.

Minister for Economic Affairs and Climate Protection Robert Habeck (Greens) said: "We want to strengthen the competitiveness of the maritime industry and show that climate protection and industry, transformation and competitiveness go hand in hand."

Representatives from the shipping industry, the maritime sector, energy suppliers and industry and environmental associations are involved in the development of the strategy. For example, it deals with alternative drive and energy systems, fleet modernization and industrial policy.

Germany must achieve targets

Wissing referred to the German government's goal that Germany should achieve greenhouse gas neutrality by 2045. The German government's 2023 climate protection program states that the action plan should include a "roadmap" for the cross-technology market ramp-up of climate-friendly ship propulsion systems and fuels.

The UN organization IMO, which is responsible for global shipping, decided last summer that the shipping industry worldwide must reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to zero by around 2050.

Around 90 percent of global trade in goods is handled by ship. The often huge container ships mainly run on heavy fuel oil or marine diesel, and some also run on liquefied natural gas LNG - all fossil fuels that release the greenhouse gas CO2 when used. Around three percent of global CO2 emissions are attributable to international shipping.

"Large shipping companies have long since set out on the path towards climate-friendly shipping, so it is high time that the German government followed suit," said Clara Thompson, Greenpeace transport expert. This is because it is still completely unclear how the necessary alternatives to marine diesel or heavy fuel oil, such as e-fuels, could be produced in the required quantities. "It would be a big step forward if the German government stopped nurturing the illusion that e-fuels could play a role in road transport - they must be used where they cannot be replaced by batteries, i.e. in aviation and shipping."

Speaking on behalf of Nabu, transport expert Pauline Schur said that an action plan was urgently needed to promote the ramp-up of e-fuels as well as charging and bunker infrastructure. As a first step, however, a clear rejection of heavy fuel oil and a rejection of LNG and biofuels is needed. "In addition, nature conservation must not be neglected, for example in approval procedures or in the expansion of infrastructure."/hoe/DP/stw