Climate change: Zero-carbon shipping represents a major business opportunity for the Clyde and beyond – Anne-Marie Trevelyan MP

The River Clyde has a rich maritime history, starting with the opening of Scotts shipyard in Greenock over 300 years ago, where great ships like Cutty Sark and the Queen Mary were built, right up to today where BAE Systems in Govan are building the latest Type 26 frigates.

The Queen Mary during its construction at the John Brown & Co shipyard, Clydebank, in 1934. (Picture: Central Press/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
The Queen Mary during its construction at the John Brown & Co shipyard, Clydebank, in 1934. (Picture: Central Press/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

That made it the natural place to launch the new Maritime Capability Campaign Office (MCCO) at the Maritime UK Awards, as part of the UK Government’s refreshed National Shipbuilding Strategy.

This new office will develop an innovative and competitive UK maritime offer for investors, using data-driven analysis to identify exporting opportunities early and stay ahead of our international competitors.

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With the Scottish maritime sector accounting for £9.4 billion in business turnover and over 37,000 jobs, as well as a history steeped in shipbuilding, it seemed fitting that I made these announcements on the bank of the River Clyde at the 2022 Maritime UK Awards last week.

There is no denying that the demands of global trade are changing fast, and we must work together right across the industry to adapt quickly, or risk being left stranded in the wake of our competitors.

Nowhere more so than in the transition to zero-carbon shipping – as the race to develop the green vessels of the future speeds up.

It was in Glasgow during COP26 where the United Kingdom, alongside our global partners, signed the Clydebank Declaration committing ourselves to establishing at least six zero-emissions, green shipping corridors by the middle of this decade.

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Maritime firms in Scotland and beyond continue to make significant progress as we strive to meet the long-term temperature goals set out by the Paris Agreement, innovating and creating game-changing green tech solutions.

My department is supporting these businesses through our green shipbuilding export campaign, which covers the full spectrum of maritime technologies.

The campaign combines the resources of Department for International Trade’s civil and defence sales teams in identifying and developing green export opportunities worldwide. It offers British businesses a competitive advantage through early intelligence and market analysis, while promoting this country’s green maritime capabilities to international buyers.

Where once we produced the world’s biggest and most powerful vessels, now we must lead the charge in building the greenest and most technologically advanced.

The new UK Shipping Office for Reducing Emissions (UK-Shore), announced by the Department for Transport, will help us do just that, with over £200 million of funding provided for research and development in the manufacturing of zero-emission vessels, ensuring our place as a global leader in green technology.

Together, we will work to build a cleaner, greener, more sustainable maritime trade network that is fit for the world of tomorrow.

That means a focus not only on the ships themselves but also the technologies that we are investing in, the regulation we want to help shape, and the international partnerships we want to develop to achieve this goal.

As we look to forge a bigger, bolder, brighter trading future for our country that is founded upon our seaborne strength, we must ensure that it is achieved through a greener, more productive and more technologically advanced British maritime industry.

This is not just an economic necessity. It is an existential one for our planet, and one of my top priorities as Secretary of State for International Trade.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan is the Conservative MP for Berwick-upon-Tweed

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