Climate change and COVID-19 were among the challenges discussed at Interferry’s 45th Annual Conference in early October attended by more than 300 delegates.
The CEOs of ferry companies from eight nations in Europe and the Americas took part in panel discussions that largely focused on how to reduce GHG emissions over the next decade. A notable emphasis was placed on the need for shoreside infrastructure to support operator initiatives.
Mike Corrigan, Interferry’s CEO, signalled the association’s intention to get ports, governments and energy companies on side to provide adequate infrastructure so that ferries can plug into shore-based power as part of the push towards electrification as part of decarbonization efforts.
“A unified approach is critical in supporting operators’ own commitment to achieving the emissions reduction targets set by the IMO, European Union and other regulators on the path to zero,” Corrigan said.
Corrigan plans to use a new study’s findings on the ferry industry’s size and economic impact to urge decision-makers to fund port-side power development. Commissioned by the trade association, the study relates the global ferry industry’s significant value to the world economy.
In 2019 (the most recent pre-Covid full year of operations), ferries carried 4.27 billion passengers – on a par with aviation – and 373 million vehicles on a worldwide fleet of 15,400 vessels. The research also determined that the industry provided 1.1 million jobs, contributed $60 billion to the world GDP, and represented approximately 20% of shipping’s economic value to the European Union.
The study was carried out by UK-based consultancy Oxford Economics, a world leader in economic impact assessment. Corrigan hopes the findings will help ferry operators to obtain the political consideration that he says is all too often more focused on airlines, rail systems and road transport.