China and Greece will set up a centre to look at ways of saving energy and cutting greenhouse gas emissions in the merchant navy, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao said Saturday.
Wen was speaking during a visit to the premises of the Chinese shipping giant Cosco at the Greek port of Piraeus, which lies next to Athens.
“To modernise Piraeus, we have to make efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions,” Wen said, in comments issued in a statement.
Cosco, which won a concession to run two of the port’s terminals in 2008, accounts for half of the port’s commercial traffic.
Wen said he had agreed with Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou to set up a “research centre devoted to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in the merchant navy.”
Wen arrived in Athens on Saturday for a two-day visit and after talks with Papandreou signed two agreements on economic cooperation in the merchant navy.
Another 11 agreements were signed between Greek and Chinese companies, of which two will involve an expansion of Cosco’s activities at Piraeus.
Of Piraeus, Wen added: “I am convinced that this transport centre is going to become a pearl of the Mediterranean and equally a communication bridge between China and Greece … a modern port, a first-class port.”
Greece and China agreed a year ago to reinforce their cooperation in maritime areas to help China gain greater access to European Union markets and to the Balkans via Piraeus.
“The number of containers due to pass through the port of Piraeus is going to rise this year to 800,000 containers and from now to 2015 this figure will reach 3.7 billion containers,” said Wen.
“The merchant marine is an important sector of cooperation between the two countries because 60 percent of crude oil is imported in China on Greek boats and 50 percent of Chinese merchandise is transported on Greek boats,” he added.
Greece has the largest merchant fleet in the world.
During a meeting last January in Japan, 20 countries and the European Union pledged to do more to tackle the problem of global warming caused by both maritime and air transport.
Neither is covered by the Kyoto Protocol on cutting greenhouse gas emissions and according to United Nations figures merchant shipping accounts for 4.5 percent of total emissions.