Creating a financial opportunity
Despite the continuing challenges created by the lack of global direction, COP26’s focus on the financial side of decarbonisation spells positive news for progress. The fact that organisations will be increasingly held to account for their carbon emissions, and must deliver total strategic transparency, will be a driver of positive change. For the first time, investors and shareholders will be able to measure and then steer actions in environmental matters through their investment decisions.
This is likely to accelerate existing activity further in the ports sector. In an industry of strong competition and narrow margins, it is often challenging to justify investment in major new projects and infrastructure especially when linked to improving sustainability. But placing a monetary value on carbon reduction should make business cases more compelling, giving them tangible ROI. As a result, we hope to see significant investment in greener port assets and ways of working, particularly where large financial institutions acquire and grow in this sector, in support of overarching green goals.
Plus, the time to start making these plans is now. Maritime assets are designed to last, and so new investments can take months and years to move from approval to implementation. Now that 2050 is less than three decades away, we are already creating the port infrastructure of tomorrow, today.
Prioritisation in challenging times
These demands are not coming at an ideal time for ports. With a global pandemic that is far from under control and supply chains increasingly under strain, ‘business as usual’ is demanding enough. But the decisions made today will shape the future of our transport infrastructure and commodity trading, vital for the green delivery of a healthy planet.
The good news is that much knowledge has been gained in this sector about the different routes to decarbonisation. We already have the tools and strategies to establish robust baseline assessments that will enable meaningful progress. In addition, ports have always been open to sharing ideas and working collaboratively – so perhaps standardization may not be such a vast obstacle to overcome.
For the road to net zero where so much uncertainty remains, there are huge benefits in drawing on collective experience. Seeking the support and insights of sector experts is the key to unlocking a zero-carbon future – and it was enormously encouraging to see at Green Ports Congress that ports all over the world are ready to make that commitment.