In his 2013 policy address, Hong Kong’s Chief Executive CY Leung announced that the government will consider introducing new legislation to require marine vessels to switch to low-sulfur diesel in Hong Kong port and to step up efforts with Guangdong Provincial Government to extend fuel switching to Pearl River Delta ports, following calls from carriers and shipowner associations to further regulate emissions from vessels.
The legislation will build on the voluntary action already taken by the shipping industry, including Maersk Line and 17 other carriers, to reduce emissions in Hong Kong under the Fair Winds Charter.
Container carrier Maersk Line recently threatened to stop using cleaner fuel at Hong Kong port if the government does not mandate higher-quality oil for carriers berthing in the city, according to Bloomberg.
“Some carriers turn up here, they don’t switch to low-sulfur fuel and they get a cost advantage,” said Tim Smith, Maersk Line’s North Asia CEO, in the Bloomberg article. “What we want is the government to regulate.”
Hong Kong offers a government-sponsored incentive scheme for ships calling on its port that use fuel that contains up to 3.5 percent sulfur, whereas in Northern Europe the limit is 1 percent. Maersk Line’s vessels calling Hong Kong currently run on fuel containing 0.5 percent sulfur or less, which is more expensive.
The Hong Kong Liner Shipping Association and the Hong Kong Shipowners Association also welcomed Leung’s announcement.