AT LNG Marine Fuel Institute, we are keenly aware of the emergence of green shipping.
It is a particularly prominent topic in the industry as policy changes, propelled by scientific and social research on the industry's impact on public health and the environment, are now coming into effect.
The much-deliberated sulphur emissions cap to be put in place in 2020 by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), for instance, aims to reduce the impact of harmful sulphur emissions from ships globally.
In the Asia-Pacific region, the most recent policy changes have occurred in China, which, as discussed in last month's column, expanded its Domestic Emissions Control Areas in January this year.
According to a group of university, government and independent policy researchers based in Hong Kong, scientific research on ship emissions has been integral to facilitating voluntary industry action as well as government proposals to control and regulate emissions in both China and Hong Kong.
The question being asked by many, however, is how to best create, regulate, and enforce policy changes related to ship emissions.
Last year, a tension emerged between the IMO and the European Union, both of which want to implement their own measures to ensure emissions reductions.
They are, as such, vying for the responsibility to induce change.
As a United Nations specialised agency, the IMO actively recommends policy changes, creating conventions that are then worked into national laws once they are ratified by member states.
For example, in Australia the IMO's MARPOL Annex VI, which addresses air pollution from ocean-going vessels, is implemented through the Protection of the Sea (Prevention of Pollution from Ships) Act 1983 and the Navigation Act 2012.
In 2016, the EU responded to what it saw as the slow and ineffective emissions reduction measures of the IMO.
To ensure the industry did its part to reduce emissions, the EU proposed to add ships’ emissions to its Emission Trading Scheme if the IMO failed to ensure emissions reduction by 2021.
This move was strongly criticised by the IMO, mainly because it believed EU intervention of this kind could actually undermine the IMO's global status and therefore undercut efforts to reduce emissions.
The tension between the EU and the IMO on the matter of regulating ships’ emissions highlights just how difficult it is to implement and govern policy change in the maritime industry.
This difficulty rests in the fact that governance takes place not from one central place, but through a diverse range of regional, global, private, and public actors.
However, we believe this diversity is not a weakness, but a key strength of the maritime industry’s ability to address ships’ emissions as it means the responsibility is shared among many different players.
With a similar notion in mind, maritime expert Dr Daria Gritsenko offers some guidance on how the industry can effectively manage emissions governance.
First, it must promote institutional diversity. This means varying regulation through both public and private means such as market-based incentives, environmental taxes, private certification schemes, and social corporate responsibility incentives.
Second, the maritime industry must target and distinguish between different shipping sectors.
Cruise ships, for example, differ in emissions to container ships. Understanding the variety of the industry itself means understanding that there is no one-size-fits-all solution.
Third, the industry needs to encourage lower-level players to monitor and control policy implementation. In other words, port state controls, port incentives, vetting, and certification are integral to the governance process.
The key message is: regulating and facilitating change in the maritime industry requires that we encourage the development of a diverse group of players who share the responsibility of ensuring emissions reduction targets are met effectively.
At LNG Marine Fuel Institute, we view the sharing of responsibility as the first step in generating opportunity.
By bringing together the diverse groups of the maritime industry, LNG Marine Fuel Institute connects them through a shared interest, a noble cause, of cleaner energy use.
Captain Walter P. Purio, CEO of LNG Marine Fuel Institute, Perth
Colleen Harmer, senior research officer, P and H Marine Australasia Pty Ltd