"Climate targets are opportunity for clean and future-proof inland waterway sector"
The congress aims to strengthen mutual cooperation between European inland port cities and between the ports and the inland waterway sector. “We should consider the entire chain of transport: Road transport is reaching the limits of further growth as roads are becoming more and more congested. The rivers, however, still offer room for transport. Inland ports can take the lead in facilitating clean fuel, not only for the ships, but for the chain as a whole. They can also play a role in port logistics and in transport from ports and distribution in the cities. All these factors come together in inland ports.”
European Green Capital Nijmegen is situated along one of the most intensively used shipping routes: over 500 inland vessels are navigating the river Waal on a daily basis. The city distinguishes itself in sustainable mobility. In the past few years it has been stimulating the use of clean fuels such as biogas, as well as the use of electric transport, quayside electricity, and bicycles. Also, the ‘Spiegelwaal’, a spectacular side-channel to the river Waal, was built in order to make space for the river and the water. In this way, the city is able to keep its feet dry, and at the same time splendid new territory was created, where nature and recreation go hand in hand. An interesting feat is that the Spiegelwaal water is so clean, that the area offers plenty of opportunities for swimming and other recreational activities. Also a gorgeous nature reserve is in the making in this side-channel. The project attracts thousands of international visitors each year.
Electric inland vessels
“Of course Nijmegen has taken considerable steps towards further sustainability of our inland port. We made substantial investments in quayside electricity and we encourage port-related companies to invest in sustainable fuels. We are proud of companies such as Hyster (fork lifts) and BCTN that are pioneers in this respect. The next step should be to make real progress in working with clean fuels. Therefore, we are a partner in pilots with electric inland vessels using LNG. Engie recently opened an LNG fuelling station especially for the shipping sector. Currently there are several pilots, but things will not change automatically. Substantial investments are needed, which calls for a joint effort from the port cities.”
The Congress `Ports and the City’ aims to support the transition to clean fuels, together with the cities, the transport sector, the private sector and with European contribution. Agreement between those parties will be sought, alongside the programme with workshops, side events and plenary session, The agreements will likely be documented, while concrete model projects will be launched. The Nijmegen mayor intends to actively work with the EU and the Environment Ministry’s Transport department. ”We still need to do a lot of preparatory work, but I’d like to see agreements turned into projects immediately. That’s exactly my aim for Nijmegen Green Capital.”
For several years, Nijmegen has been a pilot city in the Environment Ministry’s `Smart & Healthy City’ programme, which focuses on health and air quality. Mayor Bruls: “There is a trend where people want to live closer to the river and the inland ports, which means air quality and health become increasingly important factors. We give priority to a healthy and safe living environment.”
A transnational alliance between Nijmegen, Arnhem, Duisburg and Dusseldorf also focuses on the air quality issue. “By its very nature, air doesn’t stick to borders,” Bruls says. The CLINSH (Clean Inland Shipping) EU programme records the inland shipping emissions. Measuring means that there will be a better overview of the sources and of the opportunities to diminish these emissions. During the congress CLINSH will organise a meeting, and the countries involved will be present. ECN (Netherlands Energy Research Centre) will provide the sensors and will be responsible for the measurements.