Professor Markus Rex, winner of the SEADEVCON Maritime Award 2020 warns of dramatic threat to global climate – Remarks via live link from North Pole – Jutta Paulus, MEP: “Not willing to trade one gas for another” – Panels with industry experts, NGOs and startups discuss innovative and feasible approaches to reducing shipping emissions – “SEADEVCON Special ‘20 special indeed”

Hamburg, 30 September 2020. ​Addressing the participants of the shipping industry conference SEADEVCON Special ‘20​ (​​) from aboard his research ship, the icebreaker Polarstern, in the central Arctic, Professor Markus Rex, ​SEADEVCON Maritime Award​ ​2020​ winner, had some dire truths to share: “The dramatic changes in the Arctic climate system and the fast retreat of Arctic ice strongly affect global climate. It all begins and ends with the Arctic. And we know what happens in the Arctic doesn’t stay in the Arctic.”
The ​SEADEVCON Maritime Award​ is to recognize annually a personality whose “lifetime achievement is exemplary for the fight of a sustainable and respectful use of the world’s seas”. Highlighting the principle of continuity, the author and expedition leader Arved Fuchs, winner of the prize in 2019, presented this year’s honoree: “While I am not a scientist, I all the more recognise the crucial contribution Markus Rex and his colleagues are making towards building an irrefutable, facts-based case for immediate action on climate change. I couldn’t be more supportive of what they are doing.”

Professor Dr. Markus Rex is the Head of Atmospheric Physics in the Climate Sciences Division at the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research, in Potsdam. Rex leads the on-going historic project MOSAiC (Multidisciplinary drifting Observatory for the Study of Arctic Climate) involving hundreds of researchers from 20 countries (​​). MOSAiC is the first year-round expedition into the central Arctic exploring its climate system with a budget exceeding €140 million.

On receiving the award – a wooden sculpture of a sperm whale by the artist Stefan Franke which was presented in his place to a close associate, Dr. Stefanie Arndt – Rex said: “It is a great honor to be presented with the​ SEADEVCON Maritime Award 2020​ by you today. We are truly delighted about this important recognition of our work.

“I am speaking of ‘us’. Because I am receiving this accolade in the name of hundreds of scientists, logistics support and the crew members of all those ships that have made this special expedition possible which I am still on as we speak, in the Central Arctic in the ice.

“It is important to us that this prize will contribute to raise awareness in even wider circles of the serious threat global climate change poses.”

This year’s award was supported by BRIESE Research, a specialized department of BRIESE Schiffahrts GmbH & Co. KG (​​). Klaus Küper, Head of BRIESE Research: “We’ve been happy to get involved as we are very close to the area of research shipping through our daily activities and have followed with excitement the MOSAiC project and with it the prize winner’s work.”

In closing, Rex underlined the urgency of the issue of climate change and emphasised the role science must play in addressing it:

“Our societies are faced with urgent and far-reaching decisions on climate protection. These decisions must be taken on a solid, observation-based foundation. How many more greenhouse gases will we still permit ourselves to emit into the atmosphere over the coming decades?

“We scientists must be able to calculate precisely for mankind what consequences our actions of today will respectively have for future generations. Only then can our societies today take facts-based right decisions.

“It is our mission to generate and impart this knowledge. Our award received today contributes to a higher visibility for our concern. And I would like to say thank you for this on behalf of the whole MOSAiC team wholeheartedly.”
The ​SEADEVCON Special ‘20​ took place in one of the tents erected on Rathausmarkt for the 12th Hamburg Climate Week, in the heart of the city, with a format that fully respected all Covid-19 safety protocols while also streamed online.
In a live video link Jutta Paulus, MEP (​Greens / EFA group) ​gave an update on the current developments in the European Parliament where the Committee on Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI) had passed only a few days earlier two resolutions to include the maritime sector emissions from 2022 in the Commission’s proposals to make the European Union “climate-neutral” by 2050, and for ships to be 40% more emissions-efficient by 2030.
Paulus, ​ENVI rapporteur for the report, left no doubt about the relevance of ongoing discussions with the Commission: “We must live up to our responsibility for the planet and for future generations.” But referring to the need to include both CO2 and Methane in the EU policy initiative, Paulus also clarified: “We are not willing to trade one gas for another!”
The ​SEADEVCON Special ‘20​ program included two building blocks bringing together shipping experts, activists, and young entrepreneurs: a panel discussion among senior industry and NGO representatives on “Decarbonisation in the maritime and logistics sectors”; and a series of brief “Green and blue startup-presentations” showcasing their proposed solutions for achieving net zero CO2 emissions.

In the lively panel session moderated by the experienced Logistics professional and CEO of Vineta Ventures, Wolf Scheder-Bieschin, Jutta Paulus took a position not shared by the industry representatives when she questioned the wisdom of investing into LNG as an intermediate energy source. By contrast, Dirk Lehmann, Managing Director and major shareholder of Becker Marine Systems, encouraged the government to take the lead in bringing new technologies to market, including retrofitting fleets to LNG. A different aspect of the discussion was raised by Otto Schacht, EVP Sea Logistics Kuehne+Nagel, stating transportation costs did not remotely reflect the impact on the environment. Doubling prices, he said, would hardly even register with end-consumers. Annika Rickmann of Fridays for Future emphasised the dramatic situation around climate change and appealed to governments: “Bottom line, all we ask of politicians is to take scientific facts into account.”

The following series of short presentations by young entrepreneurs reflected the traditional startup spirit of the SEADEVCON conferences. Steffen Knodt, Director Digital Ventures at Wärtsilä, took the participants through some thought-provoking innovative solutions towards achieving net zero CO2 emissions. Pierre Garreau of Searoutes presented route optimization with CO2 tracking; Jan-Peter Brugger of Fuelsave showcased how to increase the operational profitability while reducing emissions; Daniel Priem of Klima.Metrix introduced their platform to calculate the CO2 footprints for companies; Sören Johannsen of SubCTech outlined their ocean monitoring systems; and Haris Sefo of Breeze pitched their solutions to monitor port and industry emissions in cities. What all these technologies have in common is that they can already be implemented now.

In a personal wrap-up Carsten Bullemer, Founder and CEO of SEADEVCON is satisfied with this year’s conference: “Under very difficult circumstances, I’m glad we found a way to host a successful event that will give new impulses to the debate around shipping emissions and their contribution to climate change. Just cancelling was never an option for us! And to have pulled off the live link to this year’s ​SEADEVCON Maritime Award​ winner Markus Rex in the central Arctic alone makes the ​SEADEVCON Special ‘20 very special indeed.”

Contact: ​Dr. Axel Gietz ​