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Maritime operators set full speed ahead for cleaner ships

Shipping historically has never been much of a friend to the environment. Oceangoing vessels have burned heavy oil, the world’s dirtiest propulsion fuel, since they switched from coal in the early 20th century, and operators since then have sailed around unclear rules over who enforces climate protection.

Ships generally operate in international waters beyond the reach of close regulation, and their flags often are different from the nationality of their owners, leaving oversight and enforcement murky unless vessels foul the environment directly around ports. This sense that ships effectively have no true home is why the industry was excluded from the 2015 Paris Agreement among countries to cut greenhouse gas emissions. Shipowners instead offered vague promises they would work to cut toxic fumes from ship stacks, in line with slow-moving regulations by the International Maritime Organization, the United Nations’ shipping regulator. Now, while the U.N. and environmentalists are sounding alarms the Paris signatory countries are falling behind schedule on cutting emissions, a move toward cleaner ships has picked up speed over the past three years, affecting everything from the way new vessels are built and what kind of fuel they use to who gets loans to buy them.

Shipping firms drop British flag as Brexit risks loom

Companies are leaving Britain’s shipping registry due to uncertainty over Britain’s departure from the European Union and future commercial arrangements with the bloc, industry officials say.

All commercial ships have to be registered, or flagged, with a particular country partly to comply with safety and environmental regulations. Shipping companies in many so-called “flag states” pay corporation tax based on vessel tonnage rather than profit. Britain’s ship registry forms part of the country’s maritime services industry and the loss of such companies from the flag could be a blow to the taxation revenues they generate. The departures could also complicate any attempts by the British government to secure extra space on ships to help cope with potential trade disruption in a no-deal Brexit.

The government faced a major embarrassment this year after stacking up a 50 million pound ($63.17 million) loss for cancelling contracts for extra ferries to bring in essential supplies in the event of a no deal, which included arrangements with a ferry company that had no vessels.

With Britain due to leave the EU on Oct. 31, there are growing worries among business leaders that the UK could still crash out without a deal. French shipping group CMA CGM said prior to Britain’s 2016 referendum on EU membership it was the largest owner of container ships under the UK flag with 49 vessels.


Hutchison Ports Thailand hits 25m teu milestone

Hutchison Ports Thailand, the nation’s leading port operator, became the first container terminal operator at Laem Chabang Port to handle 25 million TEU since operations commenced in 2002.

Managing director, Thailand & South East Asia of Hutchison Ports, Stephen Ashworth, said: “Since we started operations in Thailand in 2002, we have been committed to providing a reliable and efficient service to our customers. This significant milestone of 25 million TEU proves that we are delivering what matters most to our customers as the leading port operator in Thailand.”

Statement of the world shipping council on first year data

The EU has released its Monitoring, Reporting, and Verification (MRV) data on vessel CO2 emissions for the first calendar year of that program. It should be noted that while the actual data has been made available, the European Commission and European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) have yet to issue a report summarizing the data’s findings.

As with any large database, the MRV numbers can be presented in a number of ways, and headlines alone rarely tell the whole story. For the container sector, the MRV numbers show that containerships emit 28 percent of CO2 emissions from international shipping into and out of the EU– or about a quarter of total shipping emissions. To put that in context, container shipping carries about two-thirds of the European Union’s seaborne trade measured by value, worth about USD 1.6 trillion, so the value to society compared to emissions generated is quite favorable. In addition, the container sector has made the biggest gains in vessel fuel efficiency of any maritime sector over the past ten years, with new vessels being 30 to 50 percent more efficient than the vessels they replaced.

Despite the efficiency gains in the container sector and the high ratio of cargo value carried relative to emissions, the fact remains that all sectors in maritime transport will need to do much more in the coming years in order to meet and exceed the ambitious CO2 reduction goals that have been adopted by the International Maritime Organization.

The single most effective and necessary step will be a serious investment in research and development to identify new fuels to replace fossil fuels in shipping. Without new low and no-carbon fuels suitable for maritime use, we will end up nibbling around the edges of the problem without finding a long-term solution.

The World Shipping Council, in cooperation with other organizations and governments, is developing a proposal for an international research and development program specifically focused on the development of low and zero-carbon fuels and technologies for use in the maritime sector. We look forward to sharing that work over the next year as the IMO and the industry work to develop a comprehensive strategy for reducing greenhouse gas emissions from shipping.

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