How the European Green New Deal could change boating

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Around 180 people gathered ahead of the Düsseldorf show to hear how boating could become more sustainable.

Around 180 people gathered ahead of the Düsseldorf show to hear how boating could become more sustainable.

Trends in sustainable boating were a topic of discussion at the Sea Tourism Summit, held in collaboration with the Düsseldorf boat show, with a variety of speakers showcasing innovations that included hybrid, hydrogen and electric propulsion.

Keynote speaker Artur Runge-Metzger, director general of climate action for the European Commission, presented the European Green Deal, an agreement that strives to make the E.U. the first climate-neutral continent by 2050.

Runge-Metzger highlighted growth opportunities for marine sector, as well as funding opportunities for companies working to achieve that goal.

“From an industry side, we are convinced that Europe will be the frontrunner for sustainable boating made in Europe,” said Philip Easthill, European Boating Industry secretary general, during a presentation, according to a statement. “This offers our industry new opportunities for growth, and we can set the pace for other industries and regions.”

Easthill outlined three areas for the marine industry to focus in the coming years: industry innovation to further sustainable technologies; obtaining the right funding framework for research and innovation to support the environmental transition in the marine industry; and policy that supports sustainability in the marine sector.

“For our sector, moving toward sustainability and reducing our carbon footprint is crucial,” said European Boating Industry president Jean-Pierre Goudant at the event. “At EBI, we see this as one of our key challenges for the coming years that we will advocate for. The International Breakfast Meeting clearly shows that our industry is innovating and proceeding on the right path.”

Recycling hulls has been a major concern. In the United States alone, 1.5 million boats have gone to landfills.

La Bella Verde founder Marteen Bernhart discussed the company’s new build in collaboration with Innovation Yachts, the LBV 33, a fully recyclable boat built with natural fibers, PET-foam cores and recyclable epoxy.

“Climate change is clearly the one challenge that we and other industries must address,” Goudant said. “This means moving toward environmental sustainability and decarbonization, but at the same time also tackling the impact of climate change on boating and its infrastructure.”

The gale-force winds, torrential rain and heavy seas that hit the Ligurian coast of Italy in late 2018 were one sign of the potential damage that climate change can have on marinas and boats, Goudant said.

“Consumers are also increasingly demanding environmentally friendly leisure activities,” he said.

The industry needs more innovation, digitalization and an environmental perspective of how marine products are used, he said.

“At the same time, we need action at E.U. level,” Goudant said. “We need a positive agenda toward the promotion of nautical tourism and the blue economy as one of the key sectors creating jobs in coastal and remote regions. We were delighted to see tourism appear in the mission letters of several commissioners, but we very much hope that this will turn into concrete policy for nautical tourism.”

“We are convinced that the environmental transformation of our industry will create new opportunities for growth in our sector,” Easthill said, according to a statement. “This must be based on three key pillars: industry innovation, research and innovation funding, as well as policy that promotes sustainability. These are among the key topics for EBI in the coming years. We want sustainable boating to be made in Europe.”

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