A Sailing Ship Future – The New Economy
Published: 11th December 2020
Author: Jorne Langelaan

The Dutch “Public Benefit Organisation” MVO, which promotes a healthy environment and society, has launched a campaign to choose the minister for the New Economy. To put the benefits of sailing on the political agenda EcoClipper sent a candidate for this minister post. If you are a Dutch citizen and want to vote, follow this link.

For an explanation of how sailing fits into the New Economy read this three-part article series. The first part, last week, took you to the Old Economy and explained the necessity to leave it behind as fast as possible.

This week, you are invited to enter the New Economy…

Part 2 – The New Economy

As the pillars of the Old Economy are crumbling under ecological, social and cultural collapse, the question comes forward: what are the alternatives?

At this stage it is not an option to experiment with utopian fantasies. As such, society should look to solutions which have a proven track record and that we know actually work.

Thus, the New Economy should be an economy based on renewable energy first. With that premise it leaves us the option of a highly localised and cooperatively organised society.

How to use the past to influence the future – transport

It is generally accepted, and science tells us, that to bring a halt to climate change the burning of fossil fuels must be stopped immediately.

Although there are good, encouraging steps being taken to replace fossil fuels with renewable energy, it is not happening fast enough before irreversible global damage is done. We have run out of time. Therefore, to continue supporting the entire human population, the system has to change radically. 

Daily transport

In a post-fossil fuel economy it may not be possible to use motorised transport vehicles on a mass scale. Even if they were to run on renewable sourced electricity or hydrogen, the available electricity would be scarce and needed for important uses like industrial manufacturing, communication and healthcare.

There would need to be a huge reduction in people using motorised transport daily. This has already taken effect through national lockdowns due to the Coronavirus pandemic. More people are walking and using bikes (including cargo bikes to transport goods). Forms of transport such as these would be paramount in the future and must continue to be used.

SV KwaiShanan Wolfe

For long-distance transport and travel there are trains and ships. The efficiency of electrical trains would keep them on their tracks and operational. Train travel has, in recent years, had a “come back” with people choosing to take the train rather than fly for environmental reasons. 

Sailing vessels offer emission-free, long-distance transport. The sail cargo movement has shown that an increasing number of companies are looking to reduce their carbon emissions in shipping. Subsequently sail cargo initiatives have grown from just three operational ships in 2010 to over ten in 2019.

EcoClipper has joined this community and plans to build multiple ships on four shipping lines around the world. The ships will carry cargo, passengers and trainees thus servicing the shipping and travel industries.

Walking, cycling, train travel, sailing, even using horses, are all forms of transport that have been used in the past to great effect. The emphasis now is to use them more than motorised transport, for the benefit of future generations and our planet.

How to use the past to influence the future – localised economies

Due to the challenges of transporting goods and traveling over long distances, economics would have to rely on local products and services.

The Old Economy trend of moving from the countryside to metropolitan areas would be reversed. More people could turn back to a life alongside nature. Towns and small cities would continue to exist and might become thriving regional hubs. These hubs would become centers of local specialisation to supply rural areas with markets, industries and hospitals.

This would, for a large part, entail a switch from industrial farming to a localised agriculture, as described by Chris Smaje, in his comprehensive study: A Small Farm Future.

Whereas the capitalist society has its merits, although mainly for the happy few, localised economies could easily be served with more cooperative systems of exchange. A good example can be found in the pre-modern economics guild system or the recent and successful model of transition towns and doughnut economics brought forward by Kate Raworth.


Although this New Economy might sound like a distant transition, it takes into account methods used previously in societies that did work in balance with nature and social values. 

It will be a fairer, more meaningful and decent economy. An economy where people will live connected lives with each other and nature. Production would become a honourable and satisfying occupation once more. Societies would be cooperative again. Traveling would be an adventure. Walking across long distances, train travel across countries and sailing the seven seas propelled by the power of the wind. 

As a matter of fact, the New Economy will be more alike with the natural equilibrium and as such it is in this direction humanity ought to be heading.

The question is: what route will be taken? Read the answer next week in the following part of this series…

Video: Sailing cargo vessel at anchor, Dunbar UK.

Video: Sailing cargo vessel at anchor, Dunbar UK.

De Tukker: A 1912 coastal trader turned sail training vessel. Now part of the EcoClipper fleet, she sails cargo and travellers across seas.
De Tukker: A 1912 coastal trader turned sail training vessel. Now part of the EcoClipper fleet, she sails cargo and travellers across seas.

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Press Release: Wind transport ready for the next step! 

Press Release: Wind transport ready for the next step! 

Today the sailing freighter “De Tukker” returned from her maiden voyage.This journey started a few weeks ago in Amsterdam and took her through various European ports to Portugal and back to the Netherlands. Along the way, a mixed load was transported in a sustainable manner. The ship is propelled by sails and can therefore sail emission-free, even over long distances.

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