Barges in a sustainable world

On 15 November 2021, the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure, in cooperation with the Expertise and Innovation Centre for Inland Navigation (EICB) and various stakeholders in the maritime industry, introduced the Inland Emissions Label (IEL) in response to Article 4 of the European Green Deal published by SAB (The Waste Materials and Inland Shipping Documents Foundation).

The European Green Deal brings together various initiatives aimed at making Europe climate neutral by 2050 and thus becoming the first climate neutral continent. The label assesses barges on their contribution to air and climate quality and seeks to stimulate emission reductions. The label offers barge owners a way to demonstrate the cleanliness of a barge based on actual emissions. In addition, barge owners can benefit from various incentives, such as discounts on mooring fees and insurance, when they are in possession of the ‘cleanest’ label.

In inland navigation, we already have a label for the cleanliness of a barge, the Green Award label. The difference between the Green Award (GA) and the BEL is that the GA is more focused on internal management, for example the way people work in the engine room, and less on the type of engines on board. In addition, the GA does not set any requirements for the engines and no measurements are made or verified.

In order to obtain a BEL, various assessments must be carried out by certified companies and these also have to be submitted quarterly in order to retain the label. Despite the differences, the two organisations are in discussion about how they can complement each other.

Although the initiative comes from the Netherlands, the BEL is not intended for ships registered in the Netherlands alone. An announcement has now also been made at the CCNR (Central Commission for the Navigation of the Rhine) in Strasbourg to this effect. In addition, the organisation is in communication with the major ports in Germany and Belgium while the Dutch ministry is in discussion with a number of other stakeholders in order to strike agreements to enhance the label.

At time of writing this article by Riverlake, the label was introduced some days before. Enquiries with the competent authorities reveal that – quite as expected – no applications for the label were submitted in the first few days. However, during the course of the early days, dozens of accounts were registered on the website to apply for inland navigation emission labels.

The first labels will not be requested immediately primarily because the necessary documents and measures are not readily available, but the first requests are expected later in the year.

Riverlake is Europe’s leading river barge brokerage. More than 70 % of the volumes we carry is renewables. Our drive for greener business is on-going. Contact us!

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