Week 2- On the water! This week, we focused on a variety of issues surrounding sustainability, with our main area of interest as the shipping industry, and the maritime activities that impact sustainable development. We also discussed intercultural communication, science communication, and held a stakeholder debate for achieving sustainable maritime activities in the Baltic Sea.
Week 2 – Blogs
All aboard! Ship for Sustainability is leaving and needs all passengers on deck! Sustainable shipping necessary to reduce shipping footprint
We may not all live by the water. We may not all see marine wildlife and various boats occupying shores in our daily lives. Be that as it may, we are all somehow influenced by the various boats responsible for the shipping of goods.
Perhaps a statistic will help broaden the mind : 90 percent of all goods are transported by ships. Think about that for a moment. That is an astronomical amount being carried by the method of water. Such a huge method of transport has been a vital part of humanity’s community. However, like all actions, there are reactions. And our planet has begun to react for some time now to humanity’s actions. Some of her symptoms, such as global warming, have various causes. Unfortunately, some of these causes are linked to shipping. Shipping poses several risks and threats to oceans. Oil spills are an easy example that come to mind and that have had disastrous effects on the marine ecosystem. However, there are a number of other threats to the oceans that are causing serious consequences. Some of these threats are subtle and possibly surprising. For instance, the paint covering the hull of the boat actually pollutes the water. This antifouling biocide paint is used to prevent algae and other unwanted marine wildlife like barnacles from attaching themselves to the hull. The anti fouling paint remains in the water, long after the ship has past. However, this paint is poisonous to the marine environment. Consequently, this has a negative effect on the marine ecosystem, such as causing mussel populations to decrease. An anti fouling paint that is biocide free is available. This paint maintains its original purpose of keeping unwanted sealife from the hull while being able to increase fuel efficiency up to 9 percent . Another major issue that has begun to be addressed in several environmental control regulations is the emission of sulfur. The fuel used by ships emits large amounts of sulfur and nitrogen and that pollutes the air. Sulfate and nitrate are degraded into tiny particles that can end up in the lungs and penetrate the blood stream, eventually causing various health issues and even a premature death. Furthermore, the fuel can cause an accumulation of nitrogen in the water, increasing the process of eutrophication, a phenomenon that is causing dead zones in the ocean due to lack of oxygen.
Low sulfur fuel is an effective method to reduce the sulfur emissions. This fuel is more efficient and reduces the emission of other pollutants in the air. Another possibility is the use of a scrubber that treats the exhaust gas before it has been released. This decreases the sulfur emission by releasing a cleaner form of the exhaust gas. Split incentives are an important issue moving forward. Cargo owners can pay up to 70 percent of the fuel. This can create a conflict of interest if the ship owner wishes to move towards a more sustainable and environmentally friendly fuel option. Another component that ties into incentives is communication. There needs to be a greater use of communication between the shore, the sea and all those involved in between. Lack of awareness should not be an additional obstacle for sustainable shipping. This field already has more than enough obstacles to overcome. Spreading information, keeping informed and of course, having even the slightest interest in caring for a better environment, is caring for a better future. Sustainability is key and vital for the future. Finding alternative and sustainable solutions is the only way forward. Even if you don’t care about ships and the consequences that can unfold, eventually everyone will be affected. We can’t miss the boat that tries to help the planet. It takes roughly 15 large ships to release the same amount of sulfur dioxide as every car in the world. And there are 2000 ships on just the Baltic Sea at all times. Broaden that number in your mind to the number of ships travelling the rest of the world at the same time.
-Chak Bon Lau
When it comes to shipping, many of us heard of the word but not the meaning of it. Some of us may even believe it is an old-fashioned industry. Yet, until now, shipping is still a necessity for sustaining business, which is responsible for over 90% of the world trading activities. People rely on shipping for international trade to establish supply chain and provide logistic services. On top of that, people sail yachy and cruise ship for recreational purpose. Behind of the thrive trading, shipping lead to a variety of pollution and disturbance towards the environment.
One of the major concerns of shipping-induced issues is air pollution. Deepsea cargo ships mostly burn the remaining oil from the crude oil refining process which is the heavy and residual oil. These bunker fuels contain harmful pollutants, for example nitric oxide (NOx) and Sulphur oxide (SOx). These chemicals may also combine with particulate matters and even magnify its effect. With a view to tackling the fossil fuel consumption and air pollution, one of the ship design and engineering company, named as C-job, attempted to introduce wind-assisted propulsion into cargo vessels. Although the accurate prediction of fuel saving capacity can be complicated due to different variables, for instance, the hull shape design, naval architects have overcome the challenges and estimated the benefits. The new model is capable of saving fuel with the price over EUR 50,000 per year.
Apart from the C-job’s design, Skysail kites for wind propulsion have also been tested in recent years, more and more parties are interested in identifying reliable wind propulsion model to sail their ships such as Greenpeace, individual yachts. Yet, there is no commercial demonstration vessels on sailing currently, which is still a room for improvement.
In the coming future, it is predicted that there is an increasing number of shipping activities, a reliable fuel saving models may take advantage in the market by reducing fossil fuel consumption. Wind propulsion can definitely be one of the most advantaged options as it has no on-site emission and is renewable energy.
At what point do we draw the line between a margin of profit and sustainability in shipbreaking? When a ship is deemed an end-of-life vessel, common practice is to take the ship to a shipbreaking yard from a certified list. Depending on the flag flown by the ship, the disposal of the vessel must meet the regulations set by the governing body of the flags.
In many cases ships flying European Union flags and other flags with strict regulations for disposal of the retired ship will utilize the practice of re-flagging. What does re-flagging entail you may wonder? For a ship with the European Union flag, a set list of ship breaking yards specified by the EU must be used to dispose of the vessel. As you might imagine these shipyards use more sustainable practices and are more tightly regulated. This results in a larger cost to avoid release of polluting gases and eliminate dust generated throughout the process.
To avoid these practices ships will re-flag or circumvent the laws and regulations by replacing the flown flag with an alternate and less regulative bearing flag. For example, and most commonly a EU flag will be replaced with a non EU flag. This then opens up the use of substandard shipbreaking yards in places such as South Asia with looser regulation.
In order to help break this practice the European Commission introduced a ship recycling license for all vessels that reach European ports. This license would act as an incentive aimed at preventing the practice of re-flagging of ships. A portion of the capital obtained during the lifetime of a ship would be set aside in a fund to cover the difference in a EU certified shipbreaking yard compared to that of the substandard yards.
Although contested as undermining the advancement of the environmental conditions in these developing countries, this case cannot justify the infinitesimal margin of profit at the expense of the environment.
To put this into perspective I have gathered information on the world’s shipping fleet. There are over 52,000 shipping tankers in the world. The lifetime of the average ship was 26 years before being disposed in 2009 however just under ten years later the average lifetime of a ship has dropped to 21 years. The number of ships needing to be disposed is gradually increasing. This makes the importance of ship disposal of paramount importance moving forward if we plan to continue our use of water to carry the bulk of shipping globally.
gCaptain. European Commission Report Recommends ‘Ship Recycling License’. 7 July 2016.
“On Decommission of End-of-Life Boats .” Icomia, A Status Report, May 2007.
Wood-waste biofuel to transform marine travel
Imagine a world where biofuel is utilized rather than diesel to power marine vehicles to reduce greenhouse emissions. Aston University in the UK is working on just that. The ReShip Project is focusing on using low quality wood waste that is left behind from logging to produce biofuels to power ships. How will this work? Through the innovative process of fast pyrolysis, where the wood will be heated in the absence of oxygen to produce crude pyrolysis oil. Unfortunately, this oil cannot be used directly in diesel engines because of its instability. However, through the process of catalytic hydrogen treatment the unstable oil will be converted to a more stable substance to use as fuel. To take it a step further, the Paper and Fibre Research Institute in Norway is looking to combine the biofuel with diesel to form a multi-component fuel. The new produced fuel will then be engine tested and quality assessed to ensure a highly function fuel for marine transport.
Aston University. “Wood-waste biofuel to cut greenhouse gas, transform shipping industry.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 27 May 2014.
Air Pollution Regulation in the Shipping Industry
Approximately 50,000 premature deaths take place annually in Europe due to the air pollution from shipping. In a 2016 meeting, the Maritime Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) did not produce a target goal for the industry. Russia, Brazil, China, and the US all firmly refused the idea of an emissions target, with the primary reason for their decision being lack of data collection and analysis from individual ships.
However, progress was made: new mandatory requirements were enacted to remedy the issue. Ships over 5,000 tonnes must now track and report their fuel consumption, as well as type of fuel. This data will be sent to the IMO’s Ship Fuel Consumption database, to help create the annual MEPC report. Although this is not as progressive of a step as many anticipated and hoped for, it still is certainly a step in the right direction. In the future, equipped with this information, more radical policies may be enacted to help mitigate greenhouse gas emissions from shipping. Some are concerned this weak approach to reducing emissions is tarnishing the reputation of the IMO. Many in the sector believe that creating efficiency regulations are enough, and that the incentive of lower fuel prices is enough for many to take individual measures that will lower their emissions. Fuel is the most expensive cost for the shipping industry, so this will be on the top of ship operators’ minds. Campaigners claim although that is true, the approach does not convey the sense of urgency necessary for the needed change.
In a 2018 meeting, at the MEPC 72, an initial air pollution prevention strategy was finally implemented with plans to reduce 40% of the carbon emissions by 2030, 50% of greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, and enact new phases of the energy efficiency design index. With premature death rates such as those in Europe, this is certainly necessary progress that we should quickly encourage.
More Shipping, More Problems
Do you realize that whatever you are reading this with probably got to by ship? According to the International chamber of shipping, “About 90% of the worlds trade is carried by the international shipping industry” (ICS). Oil, clothing, technology, food, cars, toys, you name it. Cargo ships are more efficient for transporting goods than planes or cars; however, cargo ships do create a lot of problems.
International shipping has been a contributor to the spread of invasive species, oil spills, whale strikes, air pollution, water pollution, habitat destruction, etc. The list goes on and on.
Why do all these problems that have a large environmental impact fly under the radar? Well, do you want to pay double or maybe triple the amount of money for goods that you buy? International trade allows for lower prices and also a variety of goods. The problems are becoming more and more impactful because the shipping industry is growing rapidly.
One problem that has been very controversial today is the shipping industry’s contribution to lowering our quality of air. The smoke that is produced by ships burning the fossil fuels it takes to power the boats produces air born particles that pose a threat to human and environmental health. Some of the pollution has been seen as the cause of, “50,000 pre-mature deaths per year in Europe” (Annual Report). The pollution also includes carbon dioxide emissions that are the main contributor to climate change.
Since the shipping industry is not only threatening our way of life but also providing the needs of our way of life, the need for more eco-friendly ships is clear. Norway is starting the movement for a “greener” transport of goods by building ships that are similar to hybrid cars. The idea is that while ships are docked, they will be plugged in to a charging station that can supply battery power for the voyage. Once the battery cannot supply anymore energy to power the ship, the crude oil engine will start running.
Some success is easily scene from this innovational idea of running boats by electrical power. A ferry in Norway now runs only on electrical power that can transports 120 cars and 360 on the 20-minute voyage while needing to be charged for 10 minutes after every trip (Casey).
The new technology can be very expensive for shipping companies to implement but has benefits in the long run. Powering ships by electricity can be cheaper than burning diesel, also several proposals regulating the shipping industry include a fuel tax and a fee for every ton of carbon dioxide emitted (Casey).
With more technological advancements in the shipping industry, each ship will be more environmentally friendly; however, the industry is growing bigger and bigger which means the total emissions released will continue to grow.
On the bright side, the implementation of environmentally friendly ways to power cargo ships are growing. Advancements are being made with wind energy to combat the air pollution dilemma.
Cleaner ways to power ships is helping the air pollution problems, but what about the other problems ships pose to the environment? Obviously, shipping won’t go away, so how will we keep our seas and oceans from perishing? With more research, more technological advancements, and the cooperation of shipping companies.
Together, shipping companies who build and run cargo ships, researchers who determine the impacts that ships have, and lobbyists who create restrictions on shipping must work on finding a sustainable way to continue the growth of the international shipping industry without hurting our environment and our people.
“Annual Report.” Annual Report, 2017, http://www.transportenvironment.org/annual-report.
Casey, Michael. “Norway Is Building an Environmentally Friendly Fleet of Ships.” VICE News, News, 25 Nov. 2015, news.vice.com/article/norway-is-building-an-environmentally-friendly-fleet-of-ships.
“ICS Is the Principal International Trade Association for Merchant Shipowners and Operators, Representing All Sectors and Trades and over 80% of the World Merchant Fleet.” ICS | Shipping and World Trade, 2017, http://www.ics-shipping.org/.
“Map Of The Day: Global Shipping Routes.” Diverging Markets, 16 Apr. 2013, http://www.divergingmarkets.com/2013/04/16/map-of-the-day-global-shipping-routes/.
Creating a greener Maritime fleet
Within the last four decades we have seen significant exponential growth in exportation of goods from various countries, creating globalization. Due to this demand in exports, it has created the need for an increase in Maritime fleets and vessels that are used for transporting all different types of goods. This can result in the need for regional or even global use of these fleets. From an environmental standpoint one may not consider the negative implications that such a fleet may have. Most would consider the use of diesel fuels to not be the best option but more than likely look at the overall use of Maritime fleet not being that substantial in number making it seem that focus in this area should not be priority. However, when we look at the carbon footprint of these ocean vessels along with alternative cleaner options, the future is brighter as we bring awareness to the long-lasting effects of these ships and how we can make them greener as well as more sustainable for the betterment of the economy and environment.
To draw awareness and educate ourselves before investing money in a much greener endeavor is the first step. Considering that fleets and vessels of this type contribute to only 3% of global emissions would seem insignificant. Peter Boyd sees this being very impactful on the environment as he draws a comparison for us by stating, “Shipping is a big sector. There are 100,000 ships that account for 3% of greenhouse gas emissions. In GDP terms, shipping would be the sixth largest country in the world,” and “One ship emits the equivalent of 50m cars’ worth of sulphur dioxide (SO2) emissions and just 15 ships emit the equivalent SO2 emissions of every car in the world.” (Kravets, 2016) By thinking about all of the cars in the world, we are able to see the significant contribution of emissions for just 15 of these ships. Now imagine the impact of thousands of vessels all over the world. This comparison helps us to develop awareness of this global phenomenon. Now think about this in terms of future Maritime growth as “by mid-century, that number is expected to jump as much as 250 percent (emissions) as more and more ships take to the world’s oceans. (Casey, 2015) The awareness that research is presenting to us, begs the question of what are some long-term sustainable solutions that are currently being explored.
Many of the ideas for new fuel sources range from battery powered ships, hybrid ships, liquid nitrogen gas, and even using wind solar power. There is a lot of research left to be done in these areas, but we already see Norway testing five feasibility studies on electric and hybrid ships. Liquid nitrogen has seen an increase in recent years but is still more expensive than crude oil that has been historically used. Two other areas to focus on is to create tougher regulation by developing higher fees when burning crude oil for fuel and creating the financial resources necessary to pay for a higher volume of regulation enforcement personnel to hold larger fleet accountable. Often times these fleets would rather run the risk of paying a minimal fee of $800 if caught as opposed to not following the regulations and saving money by running off of crude oil, with the potential of saving millions of dollars. The existing system of laws, policies, and regulations acts, in many instances, to steer both land- and sea-based economies away from sustainability, not towards it. As long as rules and economic incentives motivate individual actors to conduct their business in unsustainable ways, reaping the financial benefits of their actions while dumping the environmental and social costs onto everybody else, we will constantly be working against the wind. (WWF Report, 2015) By drawing awareness to the issue, developing more economically sustainable energy resources, and creating new regulatory policy that effectively holds these ship owners accountable and makes them pay heavy fines for breaking these policies we will begin seeing greener Maritime fleets in the Baltic Sea.
Casey, M. (2015). “Norway is Building an Environmentally Friendly Fleet of Ships.” Tipping Point.
Kravets, E. (2016). “Green Shipping: Good or Bad for the Bottom Line.”
WWF Report (2015). All hands on deck: Setting course towards a sustainable blue economy
“Cargo Aside, Shipping Also Delivers Bad Air”
by Daniel Washington III
Everyday thousands of merchant ships navigate our waters delivering goods and resources to global destinations. Since most of our commodities are conveyed via maritime, the demands placed upon the shipping industries continues to escalate. As freight companies, Evergreen, Hanjin and Hapag Lloyd to name a few (Said, 2013), interrogate how to maintain their prestigious positions within the industry, researchers and environmentalist inquire about cleansing a commerce that delivers more than what is listed on the load manifest. Studies conducted by researchers in recent years has accentuated that health issues plaguing communities and residents near major ports stem from byproducts distributed by our colossal merchant ships. Cargo aside, shipping also delivers bad air.
Recently, an article was released by The Guardian that underlined that air pollution caused by shipping results in the death of an estimated 24,000 east Asians annually (2016). Clearly the number of automobiles on our planet’s roads exceeds the tally of maritime vessels frequenting the waters. Nonetheless, the damage generated by the largest container ships overwhelms the harm induced by the automobile industry. Cars are visible; ships unless near port are typically out of sight out of mind. While idling in port nevertheless, toxins are released into the atmosphere that should overshadow Volkswagen’s plight. East Asia is unique since the merchant ship highways are congested and eight out of the world’s ten largest ports are nestled here (2016).
The root of the shipping industry’s emission problem lies within the heightened amount of sulfur present within the fuel being used. While striving to keep companies afloat and remain competitive, most freight enterprises employ the cheapest combustible fossil fuel form for propulsion. By doing so, the detriment to the environment is neglected. This matter is complicated given the rising demand for goods as advertised on the information superhighway. The United States and select European nations have already mandated that ships coveting to use their ports operate with fuels containing lowered sulfur content (2016). The Asian region, that sees the most traffic, has failed to identify and act upon what research has revealed. Consequently, many soles that reside near the ports of the South China Sea and around the Strait of Malacca as a result have had to pay the ultimate price. Emission control is not solely an automobile industry concern; cargo aside, shipping also delivers bad air.
- (2016, July 19). Shipping air pollution causes 24,000 deaths a year in east Asia – study. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/jul/19/shipping-air-pollution-causing-24000-deaths-a-year-in-east-asia-study
Said, S. (2013, September 12). The Biggest Shipping Companies in the World. Retrieved from https://www.therichest.com/rich-list/the-biggest/the-biggest-shipping-companies-in-the-world/