The global shipping industry is under growing pressure to ensure its compliance with looming new environmental regulations, Kitack Lim, secretary-general of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), has warned.
Lim’s comments were made at the opening of the Hamburg SMM maritime trade fair, one of the world’s most important events of its kind for the shipping industry.
As of January 1, 2020, the IMO will mandate members to use fuels with a sulphur content of at most 0.5%, compared to a previous 3.5% 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.
Esben Poulsson, the chairman of the International Chamber of Shipping, 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 said.
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.
Caterpillar product manager Frank Starke, representing one of the engineering firms showcasing their products at the fair, cautioned 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 less polluting propulsion solutions were battery-powered vessels and liquefied natural gas.