A £1billion Government deal for the maritime industry would help it develop green technologies for ships.
Gas-guzzling vessels belch out around 940 million tonnes of carbon dioxide annually, with the sector blamed for about 2.5% of global greenhouse gas emissions.
Experts believe solutions can be found – and up to 75,000 jobs created, including 15,000 directly – if ministers are prepared to invest.
Maritime UK director Ben Murray said: “Decarbonisation is the biggest challenge facing every part of the economy and certainly this sector as well.
“We need the best talent to respond to that challenge.
“If we keep our skills’ base intact and our industrial expertise, we are better placed to respond to the challenge of green technology.”
Mr Murray said the solution could be “battery, hydrogen, hybrid, and we need the best minds to do that”.
A grant could be used to fund charging points for cruise ships and ferries at ports dotted around the coast, he added.
Areas which could benefit include Grimsby; Teesside; Appledore, Devon; Birkenhead, Merseyside; The Solent; Belfast; Glasgow; and Aberdeen.
It hopes for a slice of cash when the Government carries out its Spending Review.
A briefing document says the industry is worth £46.1billion to Britain’s economy and supports a million jobs.
The blueprint, seen by the Mirror, says: “Achieving a net-zero maritime sector requires investment now, with the life cycle of a ship being around 25 to 30 years.
“No country has yet pulled ahead in the zero-emission maritime race.
“The UK has the skills and manufacturing potential to become a global leader – let’s act fast to secure maximum jobs and economic growth potential.
“Growth in the UK maritime sector will unlock significant growth in areas that are essential for the Government’s ‘levelling-up’ agenda.”
Maritime UK wants to “position the UK as the world-leader in maritime decarbonisation and help transform the UK into a scientific superpower, by taking advantage of the fast-growing market for clean maritime technologies and fuels”.
Securing the cash would help “fund a programme of plug-in grants for vessels and support the roll-out of electric charging in ports”, it adds.