BERLIN, Sept. 4 (Xinhua) -- The global shipping industry is under growing time pressure to ensure its compliance with looming new environmental regulations, Kitack Lim, secretary-general of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) warned on Tuesday.
Lim's comments were made at the opening of the Hamburg SMM maritime trade fair, one of the world's most important event of its kind for the shipping industry. As of January 1 2020, the IOM will mandate members to use fuels with a sulfur content of at most 0.5 percent, compared to a previous 3.5 percent limit, when travelling the high seas. Alternatively, vessels can install so-called "scrubber" exhaust system cleaning technologies to reduce environmental pollution.
"The priority for the IMO and the industry is now to implement the new regulatory limits resolutely", Lim said. He highlighted that an even stricter Sulphur threshold of 0.1 percent was already in place. In the North Sea and the Baltic Sea which had proven "very successful."
Responding to the challenges identified by the IMO secretary general, Esben Poulsson, chairman of the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) expressed confidence that the industry would ultimately succeed in becoming more environmentally sustainable.
"We will make it, but we will have to work hard", Poulsson told press. He noted that fuels in compliance with the new regulations were not yet universally available and that their exact pricing, a key cost factor for shipping firms, was still unknown.
Nevertheless, the ICS president stressed that shipping companies were preparing to ramp up their investments in "Green Shipping" between 2019 and 2023. According to a recent survey, measures taken towards that end would come at a total cost of more than 215 billion euros (248 billion U.S. dollars).
Additionally, Poulsson argued that progress was being made on a separate target to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by half between 2008 and 2050. Whereas the global volume of trade had increased by 30 percent during the last ten years, CO2 emissions from shipping fell by eight percent during the same period.
Between Tuesday and Friday, the SMM will draw shipping companies, shipyard operators and a range of supplier companies from across the globe to Hamburg. 2,300 exhibitors are present at the trade faire which is expected to attract a total of 50,000 visitors.
Caterpillar product manager Frank Starke, representing one of the engineering firms showcasing their products at the fair, cautioned on Tuesday that the jury was still out on what new technologies would be best suited to help achieve the industry's vision of "Green Shipping".
Whereas motors could already be powered by hydrogen in principle, questions remained surrounding related security and logistics. Further candidates for a less polluting propulsion solutions were battery-powered vessels and Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG).
On its official website, the Hamburg SMM singled out the cruise ship industry for pioneering environmental sustainability at sea. The trade fair drew attention to a recent order by German AIDA Cruises for what will become their third LNG-ready cruise vessel from the Meyer Werft shipyard.
Earlier, the German Nature and Biodiversity Conservation Union (NABU) emphasized in a study that LNG technology offered one promising means to reduce their negative impact of shipping on air quality in port cities and praised AIDA Cruises for their efforts in this regard.