Falling tendency

In all climate-related considerations, the “bread-and-butter ships” of the merchant fleets are always consistently forgotten.

Merchant shipping is becoming more and more the focus of public attention – unfortunately under negative signs. Above all, the booming cruise tourism is increasingly being attacked because of the exhaust emissions and also because of the gigantism of the cruise ships. Now the current units in this industry have really become so gigantic that the “Titanic”, the “France” or the “Queen Mary”, once celebrated ocean giants, have long since appeared small from today’s point of view.

However, the “bread-and-butter ships” of the merchant fleets are always consistently forgotten in all considerations. Tankers, bulk carriers and other ships carry the goods without which the engine of the world economy, which feeds us all, would come to a standstill. Wheat, animal feed, crude oil or chemicals – but also cars, machines, steel plates or wood are moved through the oceans every day by thousands of freighters.

Most of these ships are still powered by heavy oil burning engines. The question is how long these old ships can still be operated, because the strong headwind on the part of environmental and climate protectors has long since reached shipping. The introduction of zones in which sulphurous exhaust gases are to be banned has only become a first step. Shipbuilders also have to cope with the regulations for improved energy efficiency, in which complicated formulas for the planned tonnage simply require less “power”.

The shipping industry is slow to respond to these activities. Newbuildings are difficult to finance anyway – especially in Germany, ship financing is an issue that banks and investment houses are only tackling with great caution. But who is financing the necessary transformation of world shipping towards improved _environmental friendliness? It may be that the large companies in the industry such as Maersk etc. can modernize their fleets. But who will finance the transformation of the many bulk carriers, tankers or dry freighters? At some point it will no longer be possible to operate them. Where will the capital for building better ships come from?