Tag Archives: environment
Richard Black | Environment correspondent, BBC News, Cancun, Mexico
Ships could be charged different fees to dock depending on how much carbon they emit, according to ideas being discussed at the UN climate summit.
The government of Papua New Guinea is considering the plan, and is hoping other nations may become involved.
The Carbon War Room, co-founded by Sir Richard Branson, has launched an online tool grading 60,000 commercial vessels according to their emissions.
Shipping contributes about 1Gt of CO2 each year, more than the entire UK.
Currently shipping fuels are exempt from national carbon accounts, which has caused much head-scratching about how their emissions could be curbed.
The new approach is to give businesses the tool they need to selectively use lower-emitting vessels.
“The Carbon War Room has been advocating the need for business to play a leading role in the fight to reduce carbon emissions,” said Sir Richard.
“This data hub for shipping will help the key players in the industry and their customers make better decisions for their businesses and ultimately, the planet.”
Data for 60,000 ships, including many of the big, long-distance carriers, has been put in to the website using data from international registers and methods developed by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO).
The project’s initiators hope that big corporations in particular will selectively use low-carbon carriers, encouraging all operators to improve their operations and reducing the industry’s overall carbon footprint.
“We’re hoping that companies like Nike or Walmart will go for it for two reasons,” said Peter Boyd of the Carbon War Room.
“Firstly, they’re concerned about greening their brands, but also about securing their supply chains.”
But, he said, he was also intrigued by the idea that governments could set differential landing charges for ships depending on their emissions.
Papua New Guinea’s delegate to the UN climate convention meeting, Kevin Conrad, told BBC News his government was considering the idea as part of a bigger package of measures designed to cut carbon through engagement with the private sector.
“Our duty is to find those that are leading the charge in the private sector, and work with them to achieve our climate goals,” he said.
The ships would be rated on an A-G scale according to their efficiency.
The scheme’s labels look very similar to the ratings given to consumer electrical goods such as refrigerators in the EU, which have helped drive up standards.
The Carbon War Room – a non-profit organisation aiming to “harness the power of entrepreneurs” to curb climate change – is hoping that ship owners will voluntarily choose to lodge their emissions data on the website shippingeffiency.org in order to boost their profile.
They calculate that global shipping emissions could be cut by about 30% just through increasing efficiency, although much greater gains could materialise in future as designers pursue new – or revisit old – concepts such as sails, kites and solar power.
Ships could be charged different fees to dock depending on how much carbon they emit, according to ideas being discussed on the sidelines of the UN climate summit.
While it may be an unpopular opinion, I support marine environmental regulation – so long as it is sensible, fair, well-researched, and structured so as to result in minimal unintended consequences. Knee-jerk regulation, on the other hand, is invariably counterproductive.
Examples illustrate these points.
The issue of whether oil tankers should be constructed with double hulls was debated within the maritime industry for years. Only a few shipowners were sufficiently intrepid to actually build such ships on an experimental basis – and they operated at a financial handicap as compared with their competitors who operated cheaper, simpler vessels. Immediately after the Exxon Valdez oil spill, the United States Congress enacted the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 (OPA 90), which, among other things, mandated that in order to trade to the US, new tankers had to be constructed with double hulls and single-hull tankers had to be phased out. Some in the industry proclaimed the end of the US oil trade. Instead, ship builders and naval architects got to work. OPA 90 did not define what constituted a double hull. The International Maritime Organization (IMO) had been studying the issue for some time and had developed guidelines. The various classification societies had modest experience in such work. In developing its regulations to implement OPA 90, the US Coast Guard worked with the IMO, the class societies, and the maritime industry to forge a set of standards that were acceptable to the principal players. The IMO eventually amended the MARPOL Convention in a consistent manner. Single-hull tankers are now almost all retired and the world’s tanker fleet is the safest ever. If this process had been left solely to the commercial sector, the transition from single-hull to double-hull tankers might never have occurred. Once the new requirement became universal so that everyone was in the same boat, opposition to the double-hull largely (but not entirely) faded. Some (including myself) contend that the requirement should have recognized the possibility of alternative hull designs. The important factor, though, is that the requirement got the argument off top-dead-center and the tanker industry is better for it.
A recent example of regulation run amok is provided by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposal to prohibit ocean-going vessels from discharging treated sewage within the marine waters of California. While this action has met with wide approval from environmental advocacy groups and from the State of California, it does not seem sensible, fair, well-researched, or structured to as to minimize unintended consequences. While reducing the volume of sewage (treated or untreated) entering the marine waters of California is certainly a good concept, it is unclear how ocean-going vessels got singled out to bear this burden. These ships are not the largest source of sewage discharges into California waters. Various municipalities, residences, and facilities dump raw or partially treated sewage into these waters on a routine basis. The majority of vessels operating in California marine waters are not ocean-going. While there are a handful of cruise ships operating out of California ports that carry several thousand passengers each, the average merchant vessel has a crew of about twenty, less than many charter fishing boats. These non-ocean-going vessels will not be subject to the “No Discharge Zone” proposed by the EPA. Unlike the ballast water management regulations, the EPA sewage proposal has no exceptions for emergencies. If an ocean-going vessel is unable to discharge its processed sewage ashore before the storage tank reaches full capacity, the master will have two choices: either violate the regulation by discharging into the surrounding waters, or put the vessel and its crew at risk by overloading the sewage treatment system. If the sewage discharge prohibition is appropriate, then all should participate. It is unfair to play favorites and impose a regulatory and economic burden on one party while exempting all others. At a minimum, the EPA should analyze the situation and clearly identify the entities discharging sewage into the marine waters and the steps that can reasonably be taken to reduce or eliminate that impact.
There are numerous additional examples that can be identified on both sides of this divide.
The oily water separator (OWS) is an excellent tool for reducing operational discharges of oil from ships. The IMO several years ago upgraded the standards for new OWSs to account for technological advances. Unfortunately, it failed to adopt a phase-out schedule for older OWSs. Thus, existing ships can continue to carry decrepit equipment that not only doesn’t work well, but forces chief engineers to adopt practices that may violate other laws. On a different note, both Michigan and California adopted outlandish standards for ballast water discharges for which there is no existing technology. California has been forced to extend the deadlines for its standards, hoping that its requirements and reality will eventually coincide. This is not a responsible approach for lawmakers and regulators. The defenses of legal and factual impossibility come to mind.
The bottom line is that regulation can be invaluable in protecting the marine environment. It is a powerful tool which, if employed wisely, can achieve improvements otherwise unobtainable. If wielded unwisely, environmental regulations can result in wasted monies, counterproductive bureaucracies, and disrespect for the law. The major responsibility for wise environmental regulation lies with legislators and regulators, but environmental advocacy groups and the marine industry have important roles also.
Environmental advocacy groups should avoid pushing for new rules that are unwise, unfair, and unattainable. The marine industry should avoid opposing every new proposal without regard to its benefits. All parties must work together to make reasonable progress in improving the marine environment.
THE politics of climate change is not much of a spectator sport and the prospect of yet another interminable feature on the inner workings of the International Maritime Organization is unlikely to fill anyone with joy.
But if you are planning to build a ship in the next 10 years, we humbly suggest you read on.
As an exercise in political procrastination and Olympic-level filibustering, last week’s Marine Environment Protection Committee was a resounding success.
Old divisions between developing and developed countries were redrawn, long-winded statements were delivered and the week-long proceedings ended in a protracted technical argument late at night with no interpretation on hand and no consensus.
So far, so familiar. However, this should not be mistaken for lack of progress.
What emerged was something of a gamble on political numbers, but if you cut through the diplomatic posturing, underpinning that move was a relatively robust-looking agreement on the shape of the energy efficiency measures for ships.
The thorny question of how governments will ultimately find a way of implementing the Energy Efficiency Design Index is yet to be answered, but the fact that a solid draft now exists and is being circulated around governments for adoption is an important development that companies should take a careful note of.
Politics aside, the EEDI is a reality that is likely to shape ship design and operations over the next decade. The argument is now less a question of what and more a question of how and when.
At its heart the EEDI is a benchmarking scheme to help ship designers create more fuel-efficient vessels, and together with the Ship Energy Efficiency Management Plan it forms the backbone of the IMO’s technical and operational measures to reduce CO² emissions from shipping.
While it faces some significant hurdles yet and is still liable to be held hostage to the wider political problem of developing world funding for climate change, the draft text at least offers the industry a reasonably solid indication of things to come.
While the practical questions of emissions trading versus a bunker levy remain too distant to seriously affect detailed operational decisions being made today, the EEDI text is a practical document that can and should be read by shipowners now.
“The market is unsure across the world about what is going to happen on climate change, that is uniform,” Lloyd’s Register environmental adviser Anne-Marie Warris told Lloyd’s List. “But If I were a shipowner, I would bet on this as a good indicator of things to come and make sure I know where I stand”.
Of course it would be premature to declare the EEDI a success, even on a technical level.
The EEDI is effectively a formula used to assess the efficiency of a ship in terms of the energy it uses compared with the goods it transports and this numerical value should be under a specific benchmark level for the type of ship that is to be built.
But, as we have argued on many occasions within Lloyd’s List’s technical pages, therein lies some of the key stumbling blocks.
MEPC members have been battling over points such as how to deal with the fact some ship types are designed to be overpowered and therefore compare unfavourably with others, how the ship types should be defined themselves given that some vessels can be more than one ship type, such as the oil-bulk-ore combination carriers, or some ro-ro vessels, and even the benchmark level itself.
The outcome of such technical debates are ultimately going to colour shipbuilding and design decisions for every shipowner.
While some progress was made last week on the issue of specialist ship types, smaller ships and the question of cut-off sizes for applicability of the EEDI, more will need to be done. But any discrepancies here pale in comparison to the overwhelming political differences that still exist.
Just because it has been put forward for approval does not mean this is a popular piece of legislation — far from it. The fact that the draft text is currently being circulated is entirely down to the technicalities of IMO processes and some fancy procedural footwork, rather than any majority agreements.
Member states remain fundamentally divided over the appropriateness of Marpol Annex VI as the vehicle for the EEDI, which is an argument that is in turn directed by the seemingly insoluble global clash between developing and developed world states over the issue of common but differentiated responsibilities versus the no more favourable treatment approach.
Or to put it in more crude terms — who pays for climate change reduction.
Every form of compromise and approach from high-level diplomatic intervention to the bizarre introduction of a ‘pink paper’ was tried and rejected throughout the week, but none could be found.
So despite the gaping schism within the meeting, governments in favour of circulating the text ultimately invoked the rules that allow any party to Marpol Annex VI, regardless of opposition, to circulate amendments for approval in order to force the issue.
This bold move is a something of gamble. While governments have effectively been asked to consider the text for approval, the opposition is such that many are likely to oppose it when it comes up for review at the next MEPC meeting.
However, the time lag in making this call takes into consideration that the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change conference due to take place in Cancun, Mexico, next month will have considered a number of key issues that could potentially allow IMO member states more flexibility in how they approach this decision.
It also ensures that progress can continue and that the debate is not completely hamstrung by the wider political debate.
Without some significant and unexpected compromise from with the UNFCCC, the call on whether EEDI makes it into Marpol Annex VI is likely to come down to a crude tally of numbers of governments for and against.
That will reveal some interesting fault lines in the wider debate over how the IMO decides upon the even more contentious question of market-based measures.
It will also offer a clear indication of whether the IMO has been seen to progress this issue sufficiently to ward off the looming threat of regional action from the European Commission and satisfy the UNFCCC that it should continue to take the leading role.
Most importantly, however, it will, in due course, offer shipowners some clarity on what regime they can expect to operate in when planning their fleet operations for the future.
Originally published in bbc.co.uk, 2010/09/29
About 80% of the world’s population lives in areas where the fresh water supply is not secure, according to a new global analysis.
Researchers compiled a composite index of “water threats” that includes issues such as scarcity and pollution.
The most severe threat category encompasses 3.4 billion people.
Writing in the journal Nature, they say that in western countries, conserving water for people through reservoirs and dams works for people, but not nature.
They urge developing countries not to follow the same path.
The analysis is a global snapshot, and the research team suggests more people are likely to encounter more severe stress on their water supply in the coming decades, as the climate changes and the human population continues to grow.
They have taken data on a variety of different threats, used models of threats where data is scarce, and used expert assessment to combine the various individual threats into a composite index.
The result is a map that plots the composite threat to human water security and to biodiversity in squares 50km by 50km (30 miles by 30 miles) across the world.
Changing pictures “What we’ve done is to take a very dispassionate look at the facts on the ground – what is going on with respect to humanity’s water security and what the infrastructure that’s been thrown at this problem does to the natural world,” said study leader Charles Vorosmarty from the City College of New York.
“What we’re able to outline is a planet-wide pattern of threat, despite the trillions of dollars worth of engineering palliatives that have totally reconfigured the threat landscape.”
Those “trillions of dollars” are represented by the dams, canals, aqueducts, and pipelines that have been used throughout the developed world to safeguard drinking water supplies.
Their impact on the global picture is striking.
Looking at the “raw threats” to people’s water security – the “natural” picture – much of western Europe and North America appears to be under high stress.
However, when the impact of the infrastructure that distributes and conserves water is added in – the “managed” picture – most of the serious threat disappears from these regions.
Africa, however, moves in the opposite direction.
“In fact we show them benefiting less than a billion people, so we’re already excluding a large majority of the world’s population,” he told BBC News.
“But even in rich parts of the world, it’s not a sensible way to proceed. We could continue to build more dams and exploit deeper and deeper aquifers; but even if you can afford it, it’s not a cost-effective way of doing things.”
According to this analysis, and others, the way water has been managed in the west has left a significant legacy of issues for nature.
Whereas Western Europe and the US emerge from this analysis with good scores on water stress facing their citizens, wildlife there that depends on water is much less secure, it concludes.
Concrete realities One concept advocated by development organisations nowadays is integrated water management, where the needs of all users are taken into account and where natural features are integrated with human engineering.
One widely-cited example concerns the watersheds that supply New York, in the Catskill Mountains and elsewhere around the city.
That threatened to change in the 1990s, due to agricultural pollution and other issues.
The city invested in a programme of land protection and conservation; this has maintained quality, and is calculated to have been cheaper than the alternative of building treatment works.
Mark Smith, head of the water programme at the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) who was not involved in the current study, said this sort of approach was beginning to take hold in the developing world, though “the concrete and steel model remains the default”.
“One example is the Barotse Floodplain in Zambia, where there was a proposal for draining the wetland and developing an irrigation scheme to replace the wetlands,” he related.
“Some analysis was then done that showed the economic benefits of the irrigation scheme would have been less than the benefits currently delivered by the wetland in terms of fisheries, agriculture around the flood plain, water supply, water quality and so on.
“So it’s not a question of saying ‘No we don’t need any concrete infrastructure’ – what we need are portfolios of built infrastructure and natural environment that can address the needs of development, and the ecosystem needs of people and biodiversity.”
Dollars short This analysis is likely to come in for some scrutiny, not least because it does contain an element of subjectivity in terms of how the various threats to water security are weighted and combined.
Nevertheless, Mark Smith hailed it as a “potentially powerful synthesis” of existing knowledge; while Gary Jones, chief executive of the eWater Co-operative Research Centre in Canberra, commented: “It’s a very important and timely global analysis of the joint threats of declining water security for humans and biodiversity loss for rivers.
“This study, for the first time, brings all our knowledge together under one global model of water security and aquatic biodiversity loss.”
For the team itself, it is a first attempt – a “placeholder”, or baseline – and they anticipate improvements as more accurate data emerges, not least from regions such as Africa that are traditionally data-scarce.
Already, they say, it provides a powerful indicator that governments and international institutions need to take water issues more seriously.
For developed countries and the Bric group – Brazil, Russia, India and China – alone, “$800bn per year will be required by 2015 to cover investments in water infrastructure, a target likely to go unmet,” they conclude.
For poorer countries, the outlook is considerably more bleak, they say.
“In reality this is a snapshot of the world about five or 10 years ago, because that’s the data that’s coming on line now,” said Dr McIntyre.
“It’s not about the future, but we would argue people should be even more worried if you start to account for climate change and population growth.
“Climate change is going to affect the amount of water that comes in as precipitation; and if you overlay that on an already stressed population, we’re rolling the dice.”
Good morning, distinguished delegates and observers,
It is also a pleasure for me to welcome you to the sixty-first session of the Marine Environment Protection Committee. I extend a particular welcome to those of you who are attending the committee for the first time.
Before I address specific issues on the committee’s agenda for this week, I wish to say a few words about the explosion on, and eventual sinking of, the oil rig Deepwater Horizon and the subsequent pollution the accident caused to the Gulf of Mexico over the period between April and August. Although it was not shipping-related, the devastating impact the oil spill had on the marine environment and on the ecosystem and wildlife of the gulf has saddened us all immensely.
More than that, we were distressed by the loss of 11 human lives. In conveying our deep condolences and solidarity to the US government and while sharing in the anguish of those whose livelihood had been seriously affected, I asked that the report of the investigation into the accident be submitted to IMO as soon as possible after it has been concluded, so that we may move swiftly to introduce, into the regulatory regime of the organisation, whatever lessons may be learned from the incident in order to enhance safety and environmental protection in the offshore industry and strengthen, should that prove necessary, the provisions of any relevant IMO instrument.
While the efforts of the offshore industry to extract the oil our society so much depends upon, from great depths below the surface of the sea and land, equally in equatorial and polar regions, under extremely adverse weather conditions, in unusually inhospitable environments, should be recognised, we should, nevertheless, spare no effort to ensure, as long as it may take in order to move to other sources of energy and beyond, that offshore operations take place under conditions of maximum safety for those conducting them and maximum care for the marine environment.
When the clean up and restoration operations were still on, I expressed the wish that they be crowned with success expeditiously. To that wish, I add today those that I know I share with you all:
• may the recuperative powers of nature demonstrate their capacity to heal the wounds of the gulf soon;
• may creatures repopulate the areas that have been wiped out; and
• may the gulf recover in all respects and become as ever productive soon.
World Maritime Day
Last week, we celebrated, here at our headquarters, the Year of the Seafarer, the 2010 World Maritime Day theme. Of all the regulatory objectives we have included in the action plan to celebrate the year, the conference to adopt amendments to the STCW Convention and Code stood out as the most important one and I am very pleased that it took place as it had been planned in Manila in June and was successfully concluded. Among the important innovative features incorporated in the adopted amendments, there are provisions on marine environmental awareness training, which, I hope, will be fully and effectively implemented worldwide, when the amendments come into force on January 1, 2012, as expected.
Another milestone of the conference was its decision to declare the day on which it adopted the STCW amendments, June 25, as the Day of the Seafarer, for celebration each year from now on. This was a fitting decision during the Year of the Seafarer, made in the country that supplies more than a quarter of the entire population of seafarers worldwide. I would, therefore, encourage member governments, shipping organisations, companies, shipowners, operators and managers and all other parties concerned, together with seafarer representative organisations, to duly and appropriately promote and celebrate the day as from next year. This would be the least we could do for those on whom we all depend and to whom we owe so much.
Turning to your agenda for this session and, in particular, your continued efforts to progress, to the extent that we may be able to finalise, our work on climate change, in a manner that would serve the best interests of the environment, shipping and IMO, we should, I think, try to achieve two objectives:
• One, that the measures (technical, operational and market-based) we are developing are workable, effective, well balanced and proportionate to the level of responsibility attributed to shipping over the world total of greenhouse gas emissions. Excessive measures to reduce global emissions may prove to be unfair to shipping as much as low-effect shipping measures may prove insufficient to protect the environment; and
• Two, that we conclude our work, on the basis of the plan agreed in 2006, in good time so that entities outside this forum will be given no reason to doubt the seriousness with which we approach our task and the efficiency and effectiveness our outcome will have within the overall efforts of the community to stem greenhouse gas emissions.
You will recall that, at MEPC 60, I used the opportunity of my concluding remarks to appeal to those of you, who, on legal grounds, might not feel comfortable with the proposal that MARPOL Annex VI should be used as the vehicle to make mandatory the technical and operational measures under elaboration by this committee, to take back home the advice of the legal office of the organisation that “it would not be contrary to the legislation governing the issue” to proceed that way and, in the light of its clarity, to reconsider their position.
I added that seeking the most expeditious way to introduce the measures should also be seen under the light of political considerations pertaining to the matter as a whole; under the necessity to avoid unilateral or regional measures; and, above all, under the imperative of not delaying action our planet cannot wait for any longer – no matter how insignificant, in percentage terms, the responsibility of shipping in the climate change situation is and the impact any remedial action decided may have on it. I hope that the interim period has provided the time and opportunity for those members, who were sceptical in the first place, to reconsider their initial position.
In two months, Cancún will open its gates to welcome delegates to COP 16. This is, therefore, the last opportunity for this committee not only to make substantial progress on items on its agenda, which are relevant to the forthcoming conference, but also:
• to renew its plea that IMO should continue to be entrusted with the regulation of shipping as far as the reduction or limitation of greenhouse gas emissions from international shipping is concerned; and
• since the matter of the contribution of shipping to mitigation and adaptation activities in developing countries is already on IMO’s agenda and is assiduously being addressed by the organisation through this committee, shipping should not be considered an “alternative source of finance” within the context of the Copenhagen Accord.
I hope that all IMO members, who are attending this committee and are convinced about the seriousness we attach on all matters pertaining to climate change, will give clear instructions to their national delegations to COP 16 to follow the suggestions I just made in full knowledge and appreciation of the benefits they aim at deriving for the environment, shipping and IMO – in that order.
Intersessional working groups
Since your last session, I have followed closely the work of the two intersessional working groups you then established:
• one, to conduct a feasibility study and impact assessment to advise the Committee on the various proposed market-based measures; and
• another, to progress work on the contemplated technical measures to enhance energy efficiency in ships’ operations.
In the composition of the former group, I sought, in consultation with your chairman, to ensure participation of:
• members that had proposed MBMs;
• an equitable geographical spread, to the extent possible;
• an equitable representation of developed and developing countries; and
• a reasonable spread of industry and environmental groups.
In welcoming the appointed experts to the inaugural session of the group, I asked them to act in their personal capacity, rise above partisan aims and place those of the globe above national and other interests they might be associated with.
Both groups worked hard, even during the usually idle month of August, and I wish to take this opportunity to thank them for their professionalism and dedication. Their chairmen, Andreas Chrysostomou of the market-based mechanisms group of experts and Jun Yoshida of the Technical Measures Group, did a splendid work and their commitment and leadership skills should be applauded.
On market-based measures, should we assess the outcome of the expert group in not identifying one sole scheme as the most preferred option as an indication of slow or no progress at all made on a sensitive issue? I do not think so. On the contrary, we should welcome the 300-plus-page report not only as reflective of the depth of the work the group went into in drafting it but also as indicative of the thoroughness and seriousness of the work in hand. On an issue of much importance, it is imperative that we get it right. I share the views of those who suggest that, rather than rush to choose a half-baked solution, we should prudently assess all the parameters involved and make a truly balanced decision in the best interests of the environment.
Having thus reached the stage of the negotiations we find ourselves today, it now remains for the committee to progress its work on all three pillars of the 2006 work plan and bring it to as near a completion as possible. For the committee to succeed in this, it should not lose sight of what it has set to achieve and should, rather than wasting time on procedural matters, remain focused on the objective it has resolved to accomplish – which is no other than the protection of the environment against factors that contribute to climate change. If, in the interest of considerations other than the state of the planet, we allow ourselves to stray from the aim and scope of the exercise in hand, we will not serve the environment well; the good intentions of shipping as a major industry and a service provider of global outreach will be doubted; and the organisation will be criticised for indecisiveness and inaction.
Once progress is achieved on the set objectives, we should then move on to deciding how to incorporate the outcome of our work in the organisation’s regulatory regime. Given the seriousness of the contemplated measures and the need to ensure their wide and effective implementation, I see no way to make decisions on them other than by consensus. This will not only be in line with one of the most successful traditions of this organisation, it will, more importantly, send a message of unity and unanimity among all the parties involved: Governments, in the first place, international organisations and the industry. I sincerely hope you will all be prepared and determined to go the extra mile to achieve consensus – and I will be deeply disappointed if, at the end of the day, decisions will have to be made by means other than by consensus.
In the meantime, we should be vigilant to avert, while seeking implementation of the Copenhagen Accord, any duplication of provisions which might jeopardize the efficacy of the efforts we are making in this organisation in our respective activities.
On climate change, the question we should put to ourselves should not be what others should do about it and the planet. It should rather be what we can, and should, do about it. We are in this all together and, together, we should seek a successful way out. And, yes, we can!
International Year of Biodiversity
Turning now to other important items on your agenda, you will recall that, at your last meeting in March, I referred to the interdependence of biodiversity and the transfer of invasive species in ships’ ballast water in the context of 2010 having been declared the International Year of Biodiversity.
Invasive species are widely seen as one of the major threats to global biodiversity and it is not surprising that this topic is on the agenda of a number of UN agencies and programmes, as reflected in the UNEP/CBD strategic plan. A clear example of decisive and proactive action taken in the spirit of that strategic plan is, of course, IMO’s Ballast Water Management Convention, which, seen from the perspective of our community, aims at establishing a realistic target for the eradication of invasive species and for putting in place mechanisms to control the pathways for their introduction.
To date, 26 States, with an aggregate merchant shipping tonnage of 24.66% of the world total, have ratified the convention. These figures, though encouraging, still fall short of the required 30 states representing 35% of the world tonnage. At the risk of being persistently repetitive, I will ask you, once again, to exert whatever influence you can back home and work together with other national organisations with an interest in the protection of the marine environment to have this important convention ratified without further delay.
On a more positive note, since your last session, four new Type Approval Certificates have been issued by administrations, thus bringing the number of commercially available treatment technologies to 11. If we add to these the 10 new technologies recommended for basic or final approval by the GESAMP-Ballast Water Working Group (all of which you will consider this week), I think there is ample justification to conclude that a major barrier in the implementation process has now been clearly removed thus opening the way for further ratifications of the convention.
Hong Kong Convention
The voluntary early implementation of the 2009 Hong Kong Convention on the Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships should be another item on which you should pay special attention this week. The adoption, two sessions ago, of guidelines for the development of an inventory of hazardous materials, for both new and existing ships, marked the first significant step in the facilitation of this process. I am sure that, in pursuing the decision you made last time to develop, concurrently, three further sets of guidelines (namely, on recycling facilities; on the Ship Recycling Plan; and on the authorisation of recycling facilities), you will succeed in providing a strong stimulus for ship recycling facilities to apply the Hong Kong Convention ahead of its entry into force date. Substantial progress on this undertaking will also encourage Mmembers to follow the example of France, Italy, the Netherlands, St Kitts and Nevis and Turkey – all of whom signed the convention while it was still open for signature – by now proceeding to acceding to it.
On the agenda
Many other important items feature on your extensive agenda this week, which time does not allow me to elaborate upon but all of which deserve your careful attention. From among them, I would highlight, in particular:
• the adoption of the revised MARPOL Annex III on prevention of pollution by harmful substances carried by sea in packaged form;
• the consideration of proposed amendments to MARPOL Annex IV on prevention of pollution by sewage from ships, leading to the Baltic Sea becoming a Special Area under that Annex;
• the consideration of the comprehensive review of MARPOL Annex V on prevention of pollution by garbage from ships, with a view to finalizing the revision exercise at this session;
• the consideration of proposals to designate the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and the United States Virgin Islands as an Emission Control Area; and the Strait of Bonifacio as a Particularly Sensitive Sea Area;
• the outcome of intersessional work on noise from commercial shipping and its adverse impacts on marine life;
• the review of various OPRC-HNS matters – including the approval of the Manual on oil pollution, Section I – Prevention and of the Guidance document on the implementation of an incident management system; and
• the review of technical co-operation activities implemented by the Marine Environment Division under the Integrated Technical Co-operation Programme and of those undertaken under major programmes, such as GloBallast Partnerships; the Marine Electronic Highway in the Straits of Malacca and Singapore; and SAFEMED I and II in the Mediterranean.
Before I conclude, I shall briefly invite your attention, once again, to two issues of a more general nature.
The first concerns security during meetings – on which I would appreciate your continued co operation at any given instance. These are not easy times and we should not, for lack of vigilance and alertness or the demonstration of any complacent attitude, make it easier for those who contemplate acts of violence to succeed in their evil aims.
The second concerns the Voluntary IMO Member State Audit Scheme and, here, I am pleased to inform you that, as approved by the last assembly, its institutionalisation process has now started with vigour in accordance with the timeframe and schedule set out in resolution A.1018. Indeed, following your last session, the FSI Sub-Committee, meeting in July, carried out some preparatory work and has put to your committee a number of questions for examination and guidance. In order for the process to proceed as scheduled, it is important that the committee acts as requested at this session – in particular on the issue of how to introduce the code for the implementation of mandatory IMO instruments, and auditing, in the annexes to the MARPOL Convention in a mandatory form. That said and while we progress with the set objective, it is equally important that member states continue to volunteer for audit so that the institutionalisation process can benefit from the results of conducted audits. Your support and contribution to the success of both endeavours will be greatly appreciated.
I have highlighted a few of the many issues you are expected to tackle as part of your agenda this week and, once again, you will have a very busy session. While conducting your business, you should feel encouraged, even motivated, by the progress that has been made on several of the items on your agenda, by a variety of groups working intersessionally. I wish to take this opportunity to thank all the governments and organisations that participated in the groups for making their expertise, time and other resources available to facilitate their work in the pursuit of the organisation’s goals; and, particularly, to thank the coordinator of each.
With your usual commitment to the cause of environmental protection, and with the customary IMO spirit of co operation, you will, I am sure, succeed in all your objectives and reach sound, balanced and timely decisions. The experience and leadership skills of your seasoned chairman, Mr Chrysostomou of Cyprus, will guarantee a successful outcome in the attainment of which I am confident that you and the Secretariat will assist him throughout the session. I wish you every success in your deliberations and good luck.
Originally published in Lloyd’s List, 2010/09/27
THE first tests in burning low sulphur marine gas oil in the Brazilian port of Santos have been completed by German shipping line Hamburg Süd.
For the past month its 3,700 teu boxship Cap San Lorenzo has been burning the fuel, which has just 0.1% sulphur content, when it arrives in Santos, in an effort to demonstrate the emissions savings to Brazilian authorities.
The project was launched at the request of the US’s Environmental Protection Agency.
The containership is employed on the line’s US Gulf and Caribbean-east coast South America service and has previously held similar tests in Houston and the Mexican ports of Vercruz and Altamira.
EPA assistant administrator for international and tribal affairs Michelle DePass said: “We are glad that this fuel switching project will yield emissions data to show US, Mexican and Brazilian policy makers that real reductions can be achieved by burning lower-sulphur fuels near their coastlines.”