Kevin Desmond has been writing about electric boats since 1979, when the ‘industry’ was literally embryonic and his 2017 book “Electric Boats and Ships: a History” has received near universal acclaim for the depth of its reporting on the now not-so-embryonic industry.  You can buy it here from Amazon.

Now Kevin is spearheading the Electrify Venice project as President of the NGO (non-government organization) VeniceAgenda2028, which was incorporated in France in January with the stated purpose.

“ to persuade and help the city of Venice to convert its entire fleet of motorboats (passengers, commercial and private) to electric propulsion and thus protect its buildings, its inhabitants and its many visitors from the harmful effects of diesel engines.”

They have started a petition to be presented to the Mayor of Venice and the Patriarch of Venice.

You can see it and sign it here: SIGN THE ELECTRIFY VENICE PETITION

Electrify Venice/VeniceAgenda2028 has assembled a list of 40 international suppliers who “are ready to meet the power and autonomy requirements of every type of boat in this wonderful Italian lagoon-city, la Serenissima.”

The time has come for this.

The vaporetti (water buses) in Venice burn an estimated 21 MILLION LITRES (>5 million gallons) of diesel fuel each year. In addition to the vaporetti (and adding additional toxic chemicals into the atmosphere) there are 550 water taxis, 800 or so workboats and 350 private craft. Another city of canals, Amsterdam, has recognized the issue and has put regulations in place to electrify its boats by 2025.

Emissions from diesel are a very real problem

This is not a problem that hasn’t been identified before. A 2013 article in The Independent  covering a one day ban on motorboats in the city, said: “The acid nature of the pollution is thought to be speeding up the erosion of the city’s medieval buildings, which are already sinking into the lagoon – a process exacerbated by the constant currents caused by the huge number of vessels passing through the major canals.

So Venice may be the perfect place to show how electric boats and motors can have a positive effect. Venice has 20 million visitors a year who will surely appreciate not just the absence of fumes but also the lack of noise.

As a post on the Electrify Venice facebook page points out: “For centuries, Venice, “la Serenissima” echoed only to the cries of the boatmen , the songs of the gondoliers and the rythmic splash of the oars. Go electric and we may hear those sounds again!

Once again, (in case you missed it!) click here to sign the Electrify Venice petition

An historical note.

I was wondering what (or who) the Patriarch of Venice is and why he or she should be shown the petition.

It’s pretty interesting.

The Patriarch of Venice is the bishop of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Venice, one of only four patriarchs in the Catholic Church (the others are in Lisbon, the East Indies and Jerusalem). There doesn’t seem to be any power attached to the designation or position any more, but the Patriarcha Venetiarum (that’s Latin) gets to take the bishop’s place of honour in papal processions. The Venetian patriarch gets to wear red, which is usually reserved colour for Cardinals.

According to Wikipedia, “during the twentieth century, no less than three patriarchs of Venice achieved election as pope: Giuseppe Melchiorre Sarto, elected Pope Pius X in 1903; Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli, elected Pope John XXIII in 1958; and Albino Luciani, elected Pope John Paul I in 1978.

Who knows? Maybe if the current Patriarch, Francesco Moraglia , endorses and helps implement the petition, maybe it might help his chances of following in their footsteps?