Port actors: Move freight transport to the sea and make it cheaper and greener
There are clear climate and congestion benefits to be gained when goods are shipped instead of being driven. If it is to succeed, it is about challenging habitual thinking, writes Danish Ports, Danish Shipping, Danish Maritime and Danish Shipping and Port Companies.
The post is written by: Tine Kirk, CEO of Danish Ports, Jacob K. Clasen, Deputy CEO of Danish Shipping, Jenny Braat, CEO of Danish Maritime & Jesper Sebbelin, Chief Consultant of Danish Shipping & Port Companies
This post is solely an expression of the writer's own opinion. All posts at Altinget must comply with the rules of press ethics.
You may have heard it before. Goods transported by sea are among the most climate-friendly modes of transportation. And with 70 percent of Denmark's total area covered by water, our small country has great potential to make even more use of our historical strengths at sea.
It should come as no surprise that our four organizations agree that the sea is an obvious route to look for when transporting goods.
But it actually makes a lot of sense to ship large parts of the freight that currently fills the highways to the detriment of both the climate and traffic - even if the freight only has to be shipped over shorter distances. Several shipping companies are already very successful with short sea shipping and expect further growth in the coming years.
The benefits are tangible. This mode of transport is often more sustainable than today's trucks - and it will only get greener in the future as ambitions for climate-neutral, green fuels for ships are realized.
In recent years, the Port of Vordingborg has participated in the Interreg project INCONE60, which has created a tool that can map the costs and carbon footprint of different trade routes.
Data from the project shows that 1500 tons of bulk can be transported from Vordingborg to Kolobrzeg in Poland by sea for just one sixth of both the cost and CO2 emissions compared to trucks. So there are not only climate benefits to choosing the sea route.
Similarly, Cowi has calculated the difference in CO2 emissions for the annual transportation of 15,000 TEU from the Port of Aarhus to Bilbao in Spain by ship and truck, respectively. Calculations show that there is a difference of approximately 10,000 tons of CO₂ annually between the two modes of transport.
A good question is therefore: why don't more companies choose sea transport? A study designed by the Norwegian Shortsea Promotion Centre shows that companies using road as a mode of transport are satisfied with road transport and therefore consider a change as an operational risk.
Motivation is lacking
In other words, there is a motivation gap between the desire to transport goods in the most climate-efficient way and the motivation of companies to seek alternatives. At the same time, the study shows that decisions are essentially based on habits, safety and available information.
The challenge of shifting freight from road to sea is therefore about challenging habitual thinking, ensuring accessible information about shipping as an alternative to road transport, and getting companies to prioritize fuel efficiency alongside speed.
Because yes. In some cases, trucks are faster, and for most shipments by sea, there is an element of land transportation both to and from ports. Ships, on the other hand, are often both more fuel-efficient and a cheaper mode of transport.
This makes it a question of prioritization for businesses, who unfortunately in a large number of cases choose the solution they usually go with. We need to address this.
As a pioneering green country, it is important that we in Denmark expand short sea shipping. And with maritime transport often being the most energy-efficient mode of transport, we must become better at incorporating shipping. Also when we transport goods between inter-European destinations.
Nor does it matter that a change in habits helps to solve another political problem child, namely road congestion, which, with the risk of more accidents, is costly to society. New and bigger roads are not necessarily the best solution to the problem of congestion.
It's expensive and a hassle. But maybe it doesn't have to be - there's plenty of room on the highways of the sea.
In Danish Ports, Danish Shipping, Danish Maritime and Danish Shipping and Port Companies, we are therefore working hard to promote more goods by sea for the benefit of both our climate and better space on the roads.