Go green or be left behind, warns Mersey business leader

As he leads a delegation to the COP26 climate change summit, Mersey Maritime CEO Chris Shirling-Rooke-Rooke says firms that don’t embrace sustainability will be bypassed by investors. Tony McDonough reports 

Chris Shirling-Rooke
Mersey Maritime chief executive Chris Shirling-Rooke. Picture by Tony McDonough


Businesses will be left behind by investors if they don’t fully embrace sustainability, a Liverpool city region business leader is warning.

As he gets ready to lead a high-level business delegation to the COP26 global climate change summit in Glasgow this week, Mersey Maritime chief executive Chris Shirling-Rooke told LBN that sustainability was no longer an option for companies of all sizes.

COP26 is the United Nations’ 26th annual conference on climate change running from October 31 to November 12. It will see world leaders, including UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and US President Joe Biden, come together to accelerate action towards the goals of the Paris Agreement and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

National industry body Maritime UK, which represents Britain’s £46bn maritime sector, is setting up a International Maritime Hub for the duration of COP26. And Mersey Maritime will be holding a cornerstone event on Tuesday, November 2, that will see sector leaders discuss sustainability and decarbonisation.

Mr Shirling-Rooke said the maritime industry, which is worth £4bn a year in Merseyside alone, was at the forefront of decarbonisation. He cited Bibby Marine, a subsidiary of Bibby Line Group, one of Liverpool’s oldest businesses, and its efforts to developing a new vessel that will use a fraction of the normal emissions.

“Bibby Marine’s vessels are supporting offshore installations such as wind farms. It is working to create new propulsion systems that will use alternative fuels and technologies,” said. “Elsewhere, we see the HyNet project that is pioneering hydrogen and carbon capture across the North West.

“One project we are heavily involved in is the £23m Maritime Knowledge Hub that will be built in Wirral Waters in Birkenhead. This will offer a centralised hub of work class expertise that will push forward the decarbonisation of the Maritime sector.”

And Mr Shirling-Rooke warned the businesses that did not embrace the sustainability agenda would miss out on investment. He explained: “A commitment to environmental, social and corporate governance is now becoming increasingly important to the world’s biggest investors.

“They are now looking beyond just the bottom line and the return on investment. Before they invest in a business they will want to know how that business is impacting on the world. And that is more than just about zero carbon – it is about how they treat their own people, how robust is their governance and how they impact on their communities.

“If organisations don’t have a handle on these things and cannot demonstrate how they will achieve them then they will become less attractive investment options. This is one of the key ways in which we can bring major investment back into the UK.”

The Mersey Maritime event will look at two aspects of the decarbonisation of the maritime sector – port services and supply chains. Speakers taking part will include:

  • Nigel Quinn – CEO, Bibby Marine
  • Richard Burnett – CEO, Road Haulage Association
  • Ed Watt – maritime partner, Addleshaw Goddard
  • Kevin Hobbs – CEO, Caledonian Maritime Assets (CMAL)
  • Kevin Smith – founder and CTO, Maritime Digital Hub
  • Ruth Wood – head of commercial, Mersey Maritime
  • Jodie Battson – head of partnerships, Western Union Business Solutions

The event is also being run in partnership with the Scottish Maritime Cluster, the representative body for the industry across Scotland, one of the regional cluster organisations that Mersey Maritime works with owing to its responsibility for the regional growth work of Maritime UK.

In a joint programme with the Department for Transport, delivering the principles of the Maritime 2050 strategy, Mersey Maritime encourages and helps build regional cluster organisations around the coast of the United Kingdom and has been supporting colleagues north of the border for some time.

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