Speech by President von der Leyen at the Maersk name-giving ceremony
It is such an honour for me to be here today to christen the world's first green container ship. You have already heard from Robert and Vincent how important this moment is. I could not agree more. Just a few years ago, a large vessel sailing on green methanol would have been unlikely, perhaps even impossible. So, what led us here?
Climate change and global warming are not new phenomena. Science and politics have been discussing them for decades. And for just as long, we have all known that we need to cut greenhouse gas emissions. Yet, when I took office four years ago, the idea of a net-zero shipping sector was nothing but a dream. Something was still missing to trigger big investments in climate-friendly technologies: You needed certainty about the direction of travel, a clear route so that you could set sail. And we answered your call. In 2019, the European Commission put forward the European Green Deal, not only with a clear vision for Europe to become the first climate-neutral continent but also with binding law, which all our 27 Member States – the biggest economic bloc on Earth – signed up to. And this has created the predictability you needed to act.
Under the Green Deal, we adopted several legislative proposals to make the shipping sector cleaner and more sustainable. And it was Maersk which seized the opportunity, with the famous Danish foresight. Two years ago, as you said, you ordered the first methanol-powered ship. And before the end of this decade, you expect 25 of your vessels to sail on green methanol. This will save 2.75 million tonnes of CO2 per year – thanks to green fuels to be produced here in Denmark by solar power. What an achievement. What you have achieved needed vision and it needed leadership, and joining forces. We have all understood that we are in this transition together. The European Green Deal aligns political ambition and public investment with private investment and innovation. And this beautiful ship is a first fruit of this cooperation.
There is a second element I want to highlight. Not only did Maersk see the direction of travel. But pioneers like you are shaping the economy of the future. This event is a big deal, not only for Europe but for the whole world. As you said, 90% of world trade is carried by sea. International shipping represents 3% of the global greenhouse gas emissions. By successfully decarbonising shipping, we are not only promoting our fight against climate change, we are also creating new supply chains, new industries, and thousands of new good jobs. And this is the reason why the European Green Deal is delivering. Because we are marrying ecological responsibility with economic opportunity.
The next priority is to secure green fuels, as you said, at scale. Take hydrogen: By 2030, we aim to produce and import 20 million tonnes of renewable hydrogen each year in the European Union. This is possible because we are already deploying renewable energy like never before. This year, for the first time in Europe, we generated more electricity from wind and sun than from gas. With abundant and affordable renewables, there will of course be more investment into alternative fuels like green hydrogen, ammonia and methanol.
And because shipping is global, our efforts do not stop in Europe. We worked hard, as you said, within the International Maritime Organisation, towards ambitious global action. The agreement reached last July to cut the carbon footprint of international maritime transport is a real milestone. We have to build on that and combine it with a robust global pricing mechanism for greenhouse gas emissions in the maritime sector. This will then protect first movers like you, here at Maersk. It will empower more pioneers to follow your example and sustainably sail the high seas. And it could create not only global revenues for domestic innovation but also support developing economies and emerging markets in innovating and in coping with the fallout of climate change.
This ship, this moment, embodies Europe's decision to pioneer the fight against climate change. We are turning a noble generational task into a new growth strategy. On this journey, only the horizon is our limit. I am confident because we know our destination and our sailing ships together are on a clear course. We count on you, we know we can rely on you. So let us take the necessary action.