Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Shipping Minister Confirms Commitment to Emissions Control in Green Great Britain Week

Cutting Pollution a Central Plank in Policy at Clean Maritime Council Inaugural Meeting
Shipping News Feature
UK – The government inspired Green Great Britain Week which is running between 15 - 19 October has largely gone unnoticed by much of the general public, but the first day of the initiative, designed to inform the populace of how environmental improvements can benefit employment as well as improve general health, saw the first meeting of the Clean Maritime Council, a body charged with devising a strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the shipping and waterborne logistics sectors to improve air quality on and around our waterways, ports and shipping lanes.

With air borne pollution the fourth greatest threat to public health after cancer, heart disease and obesity, the cost to the public purse by way of health care costs has doubtless prompted politicians to address the matter and, in 2016, domestic shipping accounted for 11% of the country’s nitrogen oxide emissions.

To fight this menace the government has assembled assorted experts from across the maritime sector, from industry leaders developing greener vessels, to academics studying the economics of emission reduction and Maritime Minister Nusrat Ghani used the launch to detail the approach, saying:

“The UK maritime industry has a vital role in improving air quality on and around water, and Council members will be looking at innovative and practical ways to reduce emissions from the sector. The Clean Maritime Plan will bring new opportunities for Britain’s businesses to design, develop and sell green solutions to this global challenge.”

The government says the Clean Maritime Plan will be published next year and will include policies to tackle emissions of air pollutants and greenhouse gases from shipping, while ensuring the UK can reap the economic benefits of the global transition to zero emission shipping. Baroness Bryony Worthington, Executive Director of Environmental Defense Fund Europe (EDFE), said:

“The UK has always been a proud maritime nation and with the launch of the Clean Maritime Council, has signalled its intention to lead the way in services, technology, fuels and research into zero emissions shipping. Environmental Defense Fund Europe are proud to be part of the Council and will work with the government to ensure the UK becomes synonymous with leadership in sustainable, future-proof shipping.”

The government has made the environment one of the main strands of its Maritime 2050 strategy, a long term look at the opportunities for the sector for the next 30 years and which saw a public consultation call for evidence which was completed in May 2018 and is being reviewed at the moment. The government is also claiming credit for playing a leading role in the International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) mandatory regulation to set a global cap on sulphur emissions with a cut in greenhouse gases from global shipping by at least 50% by 2050.

Currently there are various initiatives aimed at reducing emissions from shipping which include:

  • Hybrid ferries using battery power alongside traditional engines are being used between Portsmouth and the Isle of Wight and in Scotland
  • Shore-side electricity is already in place at Portsmouth (MOD), Fraserburgh and Brodick to reduce engines running at ports
  • Innovate UK is funding a project in Orkney to directly inject hydrogen into the fuel supply of a ferry
Meanwhile much of the work being done in the UK and overseas has the potential to influence how British shipping deals with the matter. Earlier this year classification society DNV GL published a paper assessing alternative fuels in shipping which can be downloaded here and a year ago the UK government backed up words with financial input, committing over £6 million to a variety of projects.

Photo: A Thames barge in the Pool of London circa 1886 shows the dangers of overloading as she ships water passing the Tower of London at a time work was just commencing on the new Tower Bridge.