European Union External Action

Speech on the Occasion of the 2nd Regional Workshop - MTCC Caribbean

Port of Spain, 01/07/2019 - 14:57, UNIQUE ID: 190701_5
Speeches of the Ambassador

It seems then that Greta Thunberg is right. Climate change is happening. I can therefore safely assume that we all agree, apart from the handful of climate change deniers, that we need to act urgently to try and stem further global warming.


Maritime Technology Cooperation Centre Caribbean

2nd Regional Workshop 2-3 July 2019


Speech by H.E. Ambassador Aad Biesebroek


Senator the Honourable Rohan Sinanan, Minister of Works and Transport


The Honourable Dr. Lovell Francis, Minister of State in the Ministry of Education


Professor Kenneth S. Julien (Emeritus), Chairman of the Board of Governors of The University of Trinidad and Tobago


Mrs. Vivian Rambarath-Parasram, Director & Head of MTCC Caribbean


Dr. Jose Matheickal, Deputy Director, International Maritime Organization


Professor Jin Yonxing, Chairman MTCC Asia


Ladies and gentlemen,


Good morning.


It is a pleasure to be here at the second MTCC Caribbean Regional Workshop. I would like to start my presentation with a question:

Are Greta Thunberg and the demonstrating students right, or are the climate change deniers supported by a handful of Wall Street traders and big business right?


I think we all know the answer. Evidence is all around us: Europe is suffering from an unprecedented heat wave. Many countries have observed record high temperatures. In the Netherlands they have recorded tropical night temperatures for the first time in history. Experts explain the unusual temperatures in Europe through the reduced surface in the Arctic that is covered by snow and ice. The darker surface heats up much faster and last month temperatures in the Arctic were 10 to 15 degrees above normal. This in turn changes atmospheric circulation bringing further climatic changes around the globe.


Trinidad and Tobago witnessed a drier than normal dry season last year and I’m told that overall annual precipitation is reduced while the intensity of tropical rainstorms has increased causing more frequent and more sever flooding.


It seems then that Greta Thunberg is right. Climate change is happening. I can therefore safely assume that we all agree, apart from the handful of climate change deniers, that we need to act urgently to try and stem further global warming, which would only intensify extreme weather patterns.


The next question then is: do we do enough? Are countries implementing the Nationally Declared Contributions to fight climate change as planned? Will we meet the commonly agreed targets? I am not convinced. What do you think?


Last week the Netherlands Government released a new climate action plan after the previous plan was found to be insufficient and a Judge had ruled the Government had to step up its activities. It is more ambitious now. Private sector and citizens alike are urged to take more action. Stimulation measures are proposed to create an incentive for investments.


This not only helps reducing the emission of greenhouse gasses and mitigating climate change, it also offers opportunities for the private sector to develop innovative approaches and create additional employment. For instance, new heating systems such as heat pumps have found their way into individual households, insulation proves its worth and electricity companies move more and more towards solar and wind electricity generation.


The third question is, what can or should the maritime sector do to contribute to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and make energy efficiency gains through advanced sustainable technologies?


In my previous presentation at the MTCC last March, I mentioned there is significant untapped potential to reduce shipping emissions cost-effectively. IMO studies suggest that energy consumption and CO2 emissions could be reduced as much as 75%. Many technical and operational measures can deliver more fuel savings than the investment requires. It is not only better from a climate and environmental perspective, but also cheaper. So they actually make perfect economic sense.


In the EU we are progressing. We are monitoring, reporting and verifying CO2 emissions from large ships using EU ports, and we are setting greenhouse gas reduction targets for the maritime transport sector. We have introduced the MRV Regulation asking companies to monitor for each of their ships CO2 emissions and fuel consumption and submit reports and we do check compliance of these reports.


The EU is also supporting and funding investments in research and innovation necessary to reduce GHG emissions. We are working on that through our Horizon 2020 Programme and we are positive that it will bring forward the solutions that will help all of us rising to the challenge.  


The objective of the workshop today is to understand progress in the Caribbean and to discuss the remaining challenges to address before the programme ends later this year.

Reading the agenda I am very pleased to note that this covers a wide range of topics and opportunities: efficiency gains, decarbonisation, greening logistics, sulphur gaps. I alos note the link that will be made with Trinidad and Tobago’s Nationally Declared Contributions. All this should make for three days of vibrant discussions.


In closing I wish to thank the International Maritime Organization for their role in rolling out the project and for the support they provide to the Maritime Technology Cooperation Centre Caribbean, and I wish to thank UTT for housing the Centre and their leading role in the project in the Caribbean.





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