The Ghana Maritime Authority (GMA) and Ghana Shippers’ Authority (GSA) are sensitizing stakeholders of the maritime industry on new regulations to reduce sulphur emissions from ships to save lives and the environment.
The seminar seeks to bring to the fore regulations of the International Maritime Organization’s (IMO’s) 2020 Sulphur Cap regulations for marine sector players to prepare adequately to meet the January First 2020, deadline for the reduction of Sulphur emissions.
In an address at the seminer in Tema, the Director General (DG) of GMA, Mr. Thomas Alonsi, said , “Sulphur oxides were known to be harmful to human health, causing respiratory symptoms and lungs diseases.
In the atmosphere, Sulphur oxide can lead to acid rain, which is harmful to crops, forests and aquatic species and also contributes to the acidification of the oceans.”
He said shipping accounted for more than 80 per cent of international trade and had become a prime facilitator of global trade and a contributor to economic growth and employment at sea and ashore.
Mr. Alonsi informed that it was therefore not surprising that the maritime sector alone consumed about 3.8 million barrels of fuel oils per day in 2017, accounting for over 90% of the transport sector fuel emissions (exhaust gases) into the atmosphere.
The DG informed that the rapid increase in international shipping therefore had a direct impact on the marine and atmospheric environment as emissions from shipping were globally substantial.
“The level of pollution in the air is rising; exhaust gases from ships are considered to be a significant source of air pollution, both for conventional pollutants and greenhouse gases,” he said.
Mr. Alonsi observed that ships were increasingly becoming more energy efficient by burning less fuel, and the International Maritime Organization (IMO) had adopted regulations on energy efficiency to support the demand for ever greener and cleaner shipping.
“It is therefore becoming necessary to take a very bold step and a strong decision to limit Sulphur oxide emissions from ships which will lead to a substantial improvement in atmospheric air quality and protect the environment so as to enable us achieve the United Nations 2010 Agenda for Sustainable Development.” Mr. Alonsi hinted.
The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Ghana Shippers’ Authority (GSA), Ms. Benonita Bismarck, said IMO’s effort to address and reduce Sulphur emissions from ships was not only motivated by environmental reasons, but also public health concerns, adding that, “It has been estimated that 570,000 premature deaths will be averted annually with the implementation of this regulation.”
Ms. Bismarck said, the cut in Sulphur emissions was a global initiative to curb the harmful effects of ship emissions and to gradually usher in the reign of green shipping as a long term strategy to overcome the harmful impact of climate change on the environment and human health.
“The cost of climate change on humankind is quite tragic hence the need for urgent attention to protect the climate,” she insisted.
The CEO of GSA said with the implementation of the IMO 2020 regulation, “The regulatory, technical and commercial aspects of the shipping industry will be affected. The cost of compliance to the industry will certainly be borne by the shippers and shipping services, however, the level of awareness is unacceptably low.”
She hinted that the clock was ticking on the IMO 2020 Sulphur Regulation deadline and yet much work remained to be done. “It is in this respect that these seminar series have been organized to help bring sufficient clarity to all stakeholders on the rules, enforcement mechanisms, and monitor compliance and the commercial implications for shippers and beneficial cargo owners.”
Sulphur is a natural component in crude oil that is present in gasoline and diesel unless removed. Sulphur in gasoline impairs the effectiveness of emission control systems and contributes to air pollution.
Reducing the Sulphur content in gasoline enables advanced emission controls and reduces air pollution. Over the years, environmental concern on harmful emissions from ships caused by the presence of Sulphur in fuel has heightened.
In response, the IMO would enforce a new 0.5 per cent Global Sulphur Cap on fuel content from 1 January 2020, lowering it from the present 3.5 per cent limit.