Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Freight and Car Carriers Team Up to Reduce Sulphur Pollution in Merchant Shipping

European Rules Will Bite Shortly and Need Concerted Efforts to Ensure a Level Playing Field
Shipping News Feature

WORLDWIDE – Freight and passenger ocean shipping has long been criticised by some for producing unacceptable amounts of air and water borne pollutants and now the Trident Alliance, a coalition of vessel operators and ship owners, many of whom are principally car carriers, focused on the robust enforcement of lower maritime sulphur emission regulations throughout the shipping industry, has now been formally launched, naming the eleven companies which will work together with other relevant stakeholders to ensure that compliance becomes an industry-wide norm.

The eleven founder members are American Roll-on Roll-off Carrier (ARC), EUKOR Car Carriers, Höegh Autoliners, J. Lauritzen, Maersk, Rickmers-Linie, Stena, Torvald Klaveness, UECC, Unifeeder, and Wallenius Wilhelmsen Logistics. The member company CEO’s have each signed a Statement of Commitment, in which they guarantee to support the enforcement of, and compliance with, new sulphur production regulations. Several more companies are apparently ready to join the Alliance with the membership process to remain open to any in the shipping industry wishing to sign up.

Over the past years, significant steps have been taken to implement regulations to limit sulphur emissions from ocean shipping. Whilst necessary, these regulations pose a significant cost and compliance challenge to the shipping industry. If the regulations are robustly implemented then compliance is the norm and competition is not distorted. However, when enforcement is weak the Alliance points out that a temptation is created to cut corners on compliance. This produces the result that regulations are blunted and have little or no effect in protecting the environment and human health. Additionally, those responsible shipping companies which do act responsibly are put at a disadvantage relative to those who are intentionally non-compliant. Roger Strevens, VP Environment of Wallenius Wilhelmsen Logistics, who has been elected Chairman of Trident, said:

“Robust enforcement of sulphur regulation is needed for health and the environment and, from the perspective of maintaining a level playing field, it is a business imperative. Already during its formation the Trident Alliance has raised awareness of the current shortcomings of enforcement and related consequences, particularly in the European ECA. Now our work starts in earnest.”

We have already written of the new European decree introducing reduced limits on the general levels of sulphur allowed in bunker fuels regularly used by ships. The limit will see a reduction of sulphur in fuels in European seas fall from 3.5% to 0.5% by 2020, with fuel used in the Baltic Sea, North Sea and English Channel – the European emission control areas (ECA) – needing to meet the new international standard of 0.1% by 2015 (from 1% currently). As part of its review of air quality the legislators have asked the Commission to consider extending the stricter SECA limits to all EU territorial waters, i.e. within 12 nautical miles of the continental coastline.

There is no one way to bring enforcement about, in part because the reasons for good or poor enforcement will vary from country to country. As such, the Trident Alliance declares it will aim to pursue a range of different solution strategies to bring about robust and transparent enforcement which it claims will be made possible by the different skills and resources of the different members in the alliance and the stakeholders it partners with. Initially at least the main focus will be on communication to raise awareness of the issue, supported by member companies’ transparency on compliance, as well as investigating initiatives to foster innovation in enforcement technology.