Investment in cleaner inland shipping brings major social benefits

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According to the CLean INland SHipping (CLINSH) consortium, investment in cleaner inland shipping will bring major social benefits in the years to come. These include benefits to public health and the preservation of biodiversity through improved air quality due to lower emissions of pollutants, particularly nitrogen and particulate matter. Vessel owners need financial support to enable them to invest in cleaner technologies. The social benefits of this are many times higher than the investment costs. CLINSH also advocates the use of a European greening fund.

Zero emissions technologies for inland shipping are anticipated in the future, such as electric motors powered by battery or hydrogen.  Nevertheless, the CLINSH consortium also advocates investing in readily available measures for the existing inland shipping fleet in the coming period.  These investments can already improve air quality in the short term.  One of the facts that emerged from the “CLINSH scenario” is that the social benefits of emission reduction, especially nitrogen and particulates, will amount to 4.9 billion euros in the coming years.  These benefits are considerably higher than the investment costs (1.3 billion euros) and the total additional costs for ship owners (760 million euros) over this period.

Furthermore, the CLINSH consortium recommends investing in quayside electricity at locations where moored ships are currently having a negative impact on air quality and creating noise pollution with their diesel generators.  The abolition of tax on quayside electricity should create a level playing field with shipboard power generation using untaxed diesel.

European Greening Fund for the transition period to zero emissions

Studies conducted by CLINSH show that in many cases over the next 10-15 years, replacing engines with modern stage V engines will be beneficial from a social perspective.  In other cases, the use of after-treatment technologies such as SCR catalysts and particulate filters or GTL fuels are effective measures.  To bridge the period until zero-emission technologies are widely used in European inland shipping, it is recommended that Europe provides financial support to owners of existing vessels. This will enable them to switch to stage V engines, after-treatment technologies and clean fuel, by means of a greening fund for inland shipping.

Real-world monitoring

The CLINSH project monitored emissions from inland shipping in real-world situations for two years. 43 inland shipping vessels sailing throughout Western Europe participated in the project.  Various technologies and alternative fuels were used on these vessels and emissions were measured.  Furthermore, measurements were taken on the banks of the Rhine and in a number of German ports.

Based on the measurements, CLINSH developed emissions factors to illustrate the impact of inland shipping on emissions and air quality in several regions.  Existing shipping patterns were taken into account for this.  The methodology is available to port, local and regional authorities, which can use the CLINSH study to assess the impact of measures for greening inland shipping and to answer policy questions.


CLINSH is a European consortium that promotes clean inland shipping.  Dutch, Belgian, German and English public and private organisations are working together within CLINSH.  On September 1st, 2016, the CLINSH consortium started implementing the CLINSH project with a grant from the European fund LIFE.  The main objective of CLINSH is to improve air quality in urban areas by accelerating emission reductions in inland shipping.

New Energy Coalition is a partner in the CLINSH consortium and has made contributions on communication, the development of financing instruments and a participation in the Steering Committee.