This week, the Environmental Objectives Committee submitted its report to the government with about 100 proposals on how the seas should be protected. A lot focuses on the environmental impact of shipping. Finally, the issue is prioritized, says Ida-Maja Hassellöv, researcher at Chalmers.
– It is very important that these issues are dealt with. As we have pointed out in studies within Lighthouse, the question of the impact of shipping on the marine environment has fallen between the cracks for a long time. There has been a great deal of focus on carbon dioxide emissions and the climate issue, which of course is very important, but without well-functioning marine ecosystems, the climate issue cannot be solved either. The questions belong together and we must work with them at the same time. So this is a fantastic proposal that shows that Sweden wants to take the lead in a holistic approach, says Ida-Maja Hassellöv.
The idea with the Environmental Objectives Committee’s many proposals is that together they should form a strong whole that will provide a better marine environment that meets set environmental quality objectives. It also means that the division of responsibilities is clarified. While the Swedish Agency for Marine and Water Management is given a clear responsibility for the impact of shipping on the marine environment, Transport analysis is given the responsibility to evaluate the impact of different types of traffic. That is good, thinks Ida-Maja Hassellöv, who has participated in several Lighthouse pre-studies that have addressed the issue.
– Swedish shipping companies are often far ahead and are good role models from an environmental point of view, but we cannot close our eyes to the fact that their vessels make up a minority of everyone who operates in our waters. We need to take into account the impact of all vessels on the marine environment.
The most comprehensive proposal is for a special marine environment law to be introduced, a law which, among other things, stipulates that governments must present a bill on the marine environment every term of office. It is an arrangement similar to the new climate law.
– It is also a good proposal. It can ensure that you are now persistent and make sure to achieve a long-term change. We can not dabble with this and make a small effort now and believe that it is enough, says Ida-Maja Hassellöv and continues:
– I think a new law also gives us researchers better conditions because there will be a receiving party on the government side.
And even better is that the Environmental Objectives Committee wants a new grant to be created for marine and aquatic environment research and which, among other things, can be used for research on the impact of shipping, underwater noise and hazardous substances on the environment. The grant shall be allocated and distributed by the Swedish Agency for Marine and Water Management.
– It can be a good complement to the research that is done within Lighthouse today and which is funded by the Swedish Transport Administration.