Sustainable ship demolition

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Building a ship

ABN AMRO is an important player in the Dutch ship finance market, as are NIBC and Rabobank. We were approached some time ago by NGOs regarding our responsibility for ship demolition on the beaches of Southeast Asia. But ABN AMRO is looking further down the road towards achieving a sustainable shipping industry, from beginning to end.

Together with shipping companies, charters, ship builders, commodities firms and NGOs, we are working to make the shipping industry more sustainable. Andius Teijgeler Andius Teijgeler Director Communications and Sustainability

The NGOs were referring to pollution and inhumane working conditions. Our reaction? We do not finance old ships and encourage clean recycling of old ships. And, of course, companies that fail to work on more effective and cleaner recycling of their old ships do not make it through our client acceptance procedure.

Sustainable Shipping Initiative

Our efforts however, do not relieve us of the duty to explore whether our responsibility goes even further. We were the first bank to be involved in the Sustainable Shipping Initiative, which we joined in 2011. Together with shipping companies, charters, ship builders, commodities firms and NGOs, we are working to make the shipping industry more sustainable. We are also a co-founder of the Green Passport, which monitors what materials are used, and where, in creating a ship. This makes ship recycling safer and more environmentally friendly, for people and the planet.

Declaration of sustainable ship building

We recently drew up a declaration which we submitted to shipping companies seeking funding for new ships, asking them to commit to responsible use and demolition of their ships. This sounds good, but as we finance only 1 per cent of all ships worldwide, the impact is small. That’s why we are trying to convince other Dutch banks to join us in our efforts. Together, Dutch banks finance around 3 per cent of all seagoing ships. We hope we’ll be successful, but even then our impact is limited.

International development in sustainable shipping

Since 2009 the International Maritime Organisation has been working on the Hong Kong Convention, which was adopted by 63 countries at a conference in Hong Kong. This convention contains regulations making responsible ship recycling mandatory. At least 15 member states need to introduce this measure, representing at least 40 per cent of the international trading fleet. The EU is also preparing regulations and criteria, to be published later this year.
China is already recycling ships in a more people- and environmentally friendly manner, demonstrating every day that sustainable ship demolition really is possible.

Tipping point

The next step is to get Norwegian banks – large parties in the ship finance market – on board. Sustainability is big in Norway, so we have high hopes. The Netherlands and Norway are good for a 10 per cent market share – and that 10 per cent could very well prove to be a tipping point in this market.

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