A container ship at port is now almost universally seen as the picture of international trade. Liner shipping is an essential network serving a troubled global economy. 2012 will see a lot of attention to the economic challenges facing the industry. We should not, however, lose sight of the continued commitment and progress liner shipping is making to improve safety and environmental quality through cooperative efforts with governments.
Permissible sulfur levels in marine fuel used in an Emission Control Area this year will fall to 1.0 percent, reducing sulfur oxides and particulate matter in four ECAs: the North America ECA, which includes most coastal waters of the U.S. (including Hawaii), and Canada; the Baltic Sea ECA, the North East Atlantic ECA, and a Caribbean ECA covering Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. These low-sulfur fuels are considerably more expensive and will raise the cost of ocean transportation, but liner shipping companies are committed to meeting the regulation’s environmental objectives.
Shipping in 2011 became the first and only industrial sector to produce a global carbon reduction regime by adopting new carbon efficiency standards for new ships to reduce CO2 emissions. The liner shipping industry this year will continue to work for the adoption of its proposed Efficiency Incentive System that would apply to new and existing ships so as to improve the total carbon efficiency and performance of the global fleet.
To address concerns about transferring marine species from one environment to another, the industry has been working with the government to establish a ballast water treatment standard that is environmentally protective, proven and universally accepted. The billions of dollars of capital investment needed for the installation of such equipment require this technology be accepted at any seaport the vessel calls.
To improve the safety of ships’ operations, the liner shipping industry is working with the International Maritime Organization to require that the actual weight of each loaded container be verified prior to vessel stowage.
Despite the uncertain economic and financial outlook for the near term, liner shipping companies will pursue consistent, international regulations that improve the safety and sustainability of the industry for the long term.