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April 6, 2022

Voyager News, Voyager Blogs

Be more Norway

Norway sets the bar high for the rest of the maritime industry when it comes to innovation, technology and investment in both. Centuries of shipping heritage, decades of oil and gas engineering and the world’s largest sovereign wealth fund give the country an enviable edge in tackling maritime industry challenges.

That position of leadership is one that the country wears with appropriate seriousness; there is no doubt that Norway’s owners, banks and regulators want to be a model for the future. But they also know how great the challenge will be.

The key word is of course collaboration, but the Norwegian Maritime Authority’s Knut Arild Hareide believes greater trust is also needed to make progress on smartening up shipping.

“Building trust though action is more difficult than through words but that is the basis of relationships,” he said. “We have targets, but we need action; more of it and faster.” In fact, he pointed out collaboration isn’t a word in Norwegian – the closest is co-operation “but that is what we need”.

Meeting the industry’s decarbonisation challenge is increasingly being championed by banks and Det Norske Bank CEO Kjersten Braathen believes “none of us is moving fast enough”.

Shipping needs pathways on how to achieve its targets and the financial industry will set its own targets to push progress. “It’s a forceful coming together, finding solutions while making the transition sustainable balancing pain and cost. We will need to take the pain and we will need to be smarter about energy and reducing demand.”

She welcomed market measures such as the Poseidon Principles for bringing transparency to carbon emissions in its maritime portfolio providing a tool to understand where you are and where you need to go. “It’s not a one-off, it’s a dynamic process of getting a map,” she added.

Gaining access to capital in future will have simple rules “a sustainability strategy and a clear view on where you are going; where do you have to get to by 2030 to be where you want to be by 2050?”

The companies at the forefront are demonstrating the ability to get better financing, she said, but “it will take a lot of work there’s no way around it”.

Kongsberg’s Gyrid Skalleberg Ingero agreed, noting that use of sustainable finance – where money is granted against a measurement of the project’s sustainability is growing fast. She estimates that sustainable finance makes up some 20% of the Nordic bond market and 13% in Norway in 2021 (up from 2% in 2020).

Kongsberg has solutions that qualify for green finance, but she said the process is far from simple, with an enhanced reporting and legal compliance burden, the costs in practice might even offset the discount provided by the market.

The lack of global standards for ESG is holding back progress, she argued. The process has come a long way but has not landed. She still advocated for the approach; “being ahead of curve is your advantage. There is a sense of urgency – we need to show action and a green deal gets you an extra marketing effect. Private capital can help us accelerate the green shift.”

To Stephane Boujnah, CEO of stock exchange Euronext, the global economy – shipping included – is still trying to avoid the carbon problem until last minute. “We are touching a point of binary contradiction between carbon and democracy; we’re trying to make the world cleaner while re-opening coal mines across Europe”.

The EU’s Fit for 55 regulations including a taxonomy for measuring emissions will help investors find out more quickly how to make decisions. “It will accelerate a path that investors are already on; they have no choice. Five years ago, getting ESG investors was a way to diversify your portfolio; now it’s the way you keep your investors,” he said

Euronext’s ESG index volume in 2020 was Euro250bn, by 2021 it was Euro500bn marking what he called “a fundamental change of investor behaviour”.

“Investors are driving this, they want dividends, liquidity and contributions to ESG. We are in a Norway moment where we need to be part of the solution. The transition to be made by shipping companies is making Norway’s clean tech sector ever more important.”

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