Guest Column

Currently, most vessels in the maritime sector are still using fossil fuels as their main source of fuel and are thus emitting large amounts of greenhouse gasses (GHG).

However, in order to try and avoid – or at least mitigate – the consequences of climate change the maritime sector has decided to reduce their GHG emissions and eventually become emission free. The main driver for this change is the sharpening of the legislations around the emission of GHG and other harmful gasses. The driver however, is not important because becoming emission free is not a choice, it is a must.


As a sustainability researcher at Royal IHC, my job is to explore the possibilities to reduce the emissions of IHC’s operations. A few topics that are currently investigated are the use of alternative clean fuels, improving the efficiency of the current drive trains, reducing under water noise and examining the effects that IHC’s actions have on local ecosystems, designing and testing entirely new ship concepts and improving the efficiency of dredging. Working together with TU Delft, TNO and other research institutes, new ideas, concepts and innovations arise quickly and a sustainable maritime sector will be achieved sooner than expected.

My personal view on the topic of becoming emission free is clear: it is not a choice, it is a must. One, very obvious, reason is that the resources (oil, gas and coal) do not replenish as fast as we consume them. They will eventually run out. However, my main reason for having this vision is that all life should be respected. This not only includes humans but animals and their habitats as well.

The harm we are doing to others by amongst others emitting greenhouse gasses is greater than we can imagine. Therefore, not only the maritime sector has to become emission free but every other sector as well. In my personal life I’m doing the best I can to contribute to a sustainable future and I am grateful for the opportunity IHC’s has given me to be able to make a contribution in my professional career as well.

Jochem Versendaal

Sustainability Reseacher, Royal IHC