Environmental Regulations Set to Revolutionize Maritime Shipping

Posted by Thomas Peterson on October 14th, 2019

Environmental Regulations Set to Revolutionize Maritime Shipping


As we approach the next decade, shipping companies are under orders to find greener and cleaner solutions when it comes to maintaining the seafaring vessels and running ports that are essential in worldwide trade.


The shipping industry is being urged to strictly adhere to new environmental regulations set by the International Maritime Organization (IMO). The global standard-setting agency established by the United Nations to protect ecological safety and security has highlighted the importance of compliance among IMO members.


At present, the shipping industry is estimated to contribute over 2.5% of global CO2 greenhouse gas emissions (GHG). These eco-friendly measures are being pushed to the limelight to avoid the appalling, projected increase of the sector’s GHG contributions, which is estimated to be between 50 to 250% by the year 2050—approximately set to represent a total of around 14% of global GHG emissions.


IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim has expressed how the shipping industry is under mounting time pressure to follow environmental regulations, saying that “The priority for the IMO and the industry is now to implement the new regulatory limits resolutely.”


IMO’s two-pronged approach


The IMO is addressing GHG emissions contributed by the global shipping industry in two ways.

First is through adopting regulations that will address the production of air pollutants generated by sea vessels, with a focus on mandatory, energy-efficiency. This can be found in Annex VI of the IMO pollution prevention treaty (MARPOL), Annex VI of the IMO Pollution Prevention Treaty (MARPOL), with specific aims to progressively reduce global emissions of particulate matter (PM) sulfphur oxide (SOx) and nitrogen oxide (NOx)in international shipping.


The second approach is IMO’s continued support and involvement in global, capacity-building projects for the implementation of the set policies, as well as to encourage the emergence of green innovations through technological developments.


Cleaner fuels for ships


Greenhouse emissions from shipping vessels that go into the atmosphere is are not only a health hazard, but it may also harms the environment by causing acid rain, and could also contribute to global warming.


In the recent past, maritime vessels of different kinds ran on unrefined fuel loaded with sulphurSulfur and other impurities that are hazardous to the environment.


This practice has persisted for decades and decades because this type of maritime fuel is enormously inexpensive compared to greener options out in the market, which came with a higher price tag. It was the type of fuel whichfuel that was left over from the rigorous oil refining process, which meant bigger savings for a lot ofmany shipping companies who opted to use it.


This is why IMO’s Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) has implementedstrategies to reduce GHG emissions, and to phase them out at the earliest time possible.


It was only in 2005 when the IMO began monitoring and controlling fuel for ships in Western regions, which include like the United States as well as and Europe. The current sulphurSulfur content limit for fuel in ships vessels is at 3.5% m/m. By next year, the global sulphurSulfur limit will be capped significantly. Under the IMP MARPOL treaty, IMO members will be required come by January 1, 2020 to use new blends of fuel oil that should have a maximum sulphurSulfur content of only 0.50% when travelling through the world’s oceans.


This change will demand larbigger investments for shipping companies, as these types of maritime fuel are expected to be three times more expensivethan the prevailing standard.


Carriages in tanks of non-compliant maritime fuel are prohibited unless ships choose to install what they call “scrubber” exhaust cleaning systems. A technology that can decrease air pollutants, the standard exhaust cleaning system can significantly decrease reduce sulfphur emissions by 95%, and PM emissions by at least 80%. Theis latter amendment is set to be enforced by March of next year2020.


At present, there are global caps in place when it comes to GHG emissions, with stricter policies in Emission Control Areas (ECAS). The territories included in the ECAS include the Baltic Sea, the North Sea, North American, and the United StatesUS Caribbean Sea, with a tighter sulphur sulfur limit in fuels set at 0.10%.


Legally binding energy-efficiency measures


All countries are legally bound to adapt adopt energy-efficiency measures set by the IMO. There is a set series of baselines for the amount of fuel every kind of ship burns for specific cargo capacities. Shipping vessels built in the near future will be required to beat the established baselinesbenchmarks, said to be increasingly get stricter over time. The goal is for all new ships to be at least 30% more energy efficient by 2025.


The energy-efficiency policies established indicates that existing ships are now required to have an energy efficiency management plan that includes meeting quality standards for improving voyage planning, better, more regular cleaning of the ship’s underwater parts (including its propeller), as well asand the introduction of technical procedures like recovery systems for waste heat, among others.

Back in 2016, the IMO also mandated all ships of 5,000 gross tonnages and over to collect fuel consumption data for every kind of oil they utilize, along with other specific data. The information gathered will be studied and used as a basis for future policies and measures implemented by IMO.

Global Maritime Energy Efficiency Partnership (GloMEEP)

Launched in September 2015, The Global Maritime Energy Efficiency Partnership (GloMEEP) is a joint project of IMO, the Global Environment Facility (GEF), and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) that is already underway. The goal of the project is to gain a better understanding of energy-efficiency measures at the technical and operational levels, so that the shipping industry can truly minimize its carbon footprint.


GloMEEP creates partnerships in different sectors on global, regional, and national scales so that territories can address maritime energy efficiency issues with area-specific development policies and programs. They organize workshops, and facilitate the development of information portals that can educate users on green technologies and innovations, which can benefit maritime shipping.


There are currently ten (10) developing countries participating in GloMEEP, including China, the Philippines, India, Georgia, Argentina, Malaysia, Morocco, Panama, Jamaica, and South Africa.


The forces behind the GloMEEP initiative haverecently launched the Global Industry Alliance to Support Low Carbon Shipping, where top private companies from various sectors have gathered to deal with the challenges and issues of decarbonizing the international shipping industry.


A cleaner, greener future for maritime shipping


As eco-friendly measures are being enforced globally, shipping companies are required to adhere to set policies that will promote clean and green practices. Being compliant in all respects also means using include the use of industry- standard shipping containers that are appropriate for their specific cargo, so that goods are safely handled and contained while in transit.

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Thomas Peterson

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Thomas Peterson
Joined: October 14th, 2019
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