The International Maritime Organisation (IMO) will from January 1, 2020 enforce its IMO 2020 Sulphur Cap Regulation, an environmentally-friendly directive that will see the Sulphur content of fuel used by ships reduced from the current 3.5 percent to 0.5 percent.
An estimated 570,000 premature deaths could be averted annually with implementation of the regulation, aside from other significant benefits to the environment.
To increase stakeholder awareness on the new directive, two state agencies in the maritime sector – the Ghana Maritime Authority (GMA) and Ghana Shippers’ Authority (GSA) – are carrying out a series of stakeholder sensitisation fora.
At one such event in Tema, Director General of the GMA Thomas Alonsi admitted that the level of pollution in the air is rising, as exhaust gases from ships are considered to be a significant source of air-pollution – for both conventional pollutants and greenhouse gases.
He said the rise in shipping is impacting the marine and environmental spaces in terms of pollution, and with direct health concerns for humans, flora and fauna.
Mr. Alonsi said although shipping accounts for more than 80 percent of international trade, and has become a prime facilitator of global trade and a contributor to economic growth and employment at sea and ashore, there is equally a need to pay attention to its emissions.
With fuel costs taking up more than 50 percent of total operating expenses for vessels, the regulation is seen as an increase too steep for carriers and cargo owners to absorb and stay operational.
“This is a global initiative to curb the harmful effects of ships’ emissions, and to gradually usher in the reign of green shipping as a long-term strategy to overcome the harsh impact of climate change on human lives and the environment,” said Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana Shippers Authority (GSA), Ms. Benonita Bismarck.
According to her, the IMO 202 0 Sulphur Cap Regulation presents cross-cutting issues of significant interest to the shipping industry, and that her outfit must be critical of the impact from compliance by shipping lines on cost of shipments.
She indicated that GSA will continue to make the business of shippers easy, flexible and responsive to changing needs of the industry.
Sulphur is a natural component in crude oil that is also 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.