Updated: Dec 1, 2022
So stated an Extinction Rebellion representative during The Superyacht Forum during METS in Amsterdam recently.
Do we dismiss such action as naive attention seeking or unfounded virtue signaling? Or were valid points made and is there an opportunity to dig deeper into the arguments and context as presented by the Extinction Rebellion spokesperson?
Credit is due to Martin Redmayne and the TSF team for inviting the protestors on stage and providing a platform to air their views, also for publishing the transcript for those unable to attend in person.
Now that some weeks have passed since the protest, the response from the yachting industry online includes comments that the points made were not well articulated and showed a lack of sector knowledge.
However, from reading the transcript there does appear to be some key points that can be drawn together. These points have been reframed below as questions asked from a position within the superyacht industry. Some have been removed where there is repetition, others paraphrased and edited for clarity,.
This reframing as questions from the key points is intended stimulate further discussion and spark useful, positive and proactive outcomes from a diversity of viewpoints:
⚡️Does this industry have a place in the energy transition?
⚡️Are we going to lose our social licence to operate?
⚡️Can superyachts be considered sustainable?
⚡️Are we attempting to greenwash the hobbies of the super-rich?
⚡️Are superyachts the most caricatured example of climate injustice that only exist as super-toys for the super-rich?
⚡️Are there other things that we could do with a background in naval engineering, being a crew member etc?
⚡️Are superyachts becoming more unacceptable as wider society is trying to reduce their carbon footprint?
⚡️Is inviting oceanographers to come on board or to design vessels science-washing?
⚡️Is there is a place for us in the superyacht industry if we truly care about sustainability?
⚡️Is there a place for the Superyacht industry in the future?
In the spirit of doing something useful, hopefully these questions represent a useful summary and a useful catalyst to agree or disagree each point, or consider their validity.
It also serves as a wake-up call. Superyachts exist, this is a fact. There are over 7,000 afloat and hundreds more currently in build, the vast majority based on a ‘business as usual’ approach to design, specification, construction and operation.
This means that any starting point for improvement is based on this current reality. However, the opportunity available is that we - acting individually, as businesses and as an industry - can influence the transition to a future reality.
Perhaps the most succinct summary comes from the opening session of the Forum with the comment from Henk de Vries of Feadship stating clearly his view that we must “adapt or die”, stressing the Darwinian survival imperative for the superyacht sector to evolve.
This also suggests that there is already an overlap or alignment within the superyacht industry on some of the points raised by the protestors?
Full unedited transcript from Superyacht News available here: https://www.superyachtnews.com/business/extinction-rebellion-invited-on-stage-at-tsf
Photo credit and further reporting here: https://marineindustrynews.co.uk/watch-extinction-rebellion-protests-superyacht-forum/