Friday, July 15, 2011

Freight Groups Aim To Find Another Solution To Clean Up Ocean Shipping Supply Chain

Bunker Levy Dismissed as Avoidance of the Real Pollution Issues
Shipping News Feature

UK – WORLDWIDE – Four times a year the British Shippers Council (BSC) meets to discuss current matters of import to the country’s freight community and top of the agenda at this weeks gathering was the inevitable discussion revolving around preservation of the environment and the best way to improve the ocean shipping industry’s carbon emissions.

The bunker levy scheme has been vaunted as a way of capturing billions of dollars from the maritime industry, which can then be redistributed via the International Maritime Organization (IMO) into an environmental compensation scheme to help ship owners meet their climate change responsibilities and reduce carbon emissions but the BSC, an arm of the UK’s Freight Transport Association made up of 12 regional Freight Council members and 40 directly appointed members, came down firmly against the proposal at their quarterly meeting.

The BSC, and other influential maritime bodies, feel such a levy would simply pass on shipping carbon costs rather than address the real issue of curbing carbon and greenhouse gas emissions. Earlier this year the Global Shippers’ Forum (GSF), which represents the interests of shippers from Asia, Europe, North America, Africa and Oceania, stated it would welcome and support a voluntary shipping industry initiative to reduce carbon emissions through the IMO. Indeed, GSF members are closely collaborating on a new project to decarbonise the maritime supply chain from the shippers’ perspective. Those involved believe outputs from the project will provide a series of tools to allow shippers to take positive steps to reduce their total maritime supply chain CO2 production.

The FTA have taken their own initiatives to reduce carbon emissions in the global maritime supply chain by joining forces in February with Heriot-Watt University (HWU) to begin developing a broad range of measures to substantially reduce the carbon intensity of supply chains containing a deep-sea movement. The scheme has subsequently been expanded to involve GSF members, giving the scheme a global dimension. The output from the project is intended to produce definitive best-practice guidance on reducing cargo emissions in global maritime supply chains.

The template for this best practice guidance will be produced in conjunction with shippers and other stakeholders in the maritime supply chain and the Logistics Research Centre at Heriot-Watt University and the scheme has the backing of the Clean Cargo Working Group.

The Secretary of the British Shippers Council, Christopher Snelling made the group’s position on dirty ships and any sort of fuel levy as a solution very plain, saying:

“A bunker levy in the proposed format would simply pass costs from ship operator to customer. The accountability for a ship’s carbon performance surely lies with its owner; passing the buck by way of a bunker levy would be grossly unfair and do very little to tackle the real issue of curbing carbon emissions at the root of the problem. The key to reducing carbon is in the hands of the ship owners themselves, where the responsibility to improve operational and environmental efficiency must remain.

“The depth of anti-bunker levy feeling from the BSC and GSF is too strong for the shipping industry to ignore and its message to ship operators is clear: take direct responsibility for setting and achieving a clear target for reducing your own carbon emissions.”