New IMO regulations in 2020 to address climate concerns -Local shippers’ dialogue ahead of its enforcement

Some members of the shipping community at the seminar, in Kumasi.

The local shipping community has been urged to ‘brace’ for the impact of the January 1, 2020 implementation date of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) Sulphur Cap 2020 regulations, which ask vessels to adhere to strict Sulphur emissions, on the costs of shipping.

The new arrangement, which spells out some significant consequences, including fines and delays of shipping schedules, for vessels who fail to comply, is part of the response of the global maritime industry towards curbing the harmful effects of ship emissions.

This is envisaged to gradually usher in the rein of green shipping as a long-term strategy to overcome the harmful impact of climate on the environment and human health.

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 pollution.

Over the years, environmental concerns on harmful emissions from ships caused by the presence of Sulphur in fuel have heightened. To respond to that IMO is enforcing a new 0.5 percent global Sulphur Cap on fuel content, lowering it from the present 3.5 percent limit.

The Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana Shippers’ Authority (GSA), Ms. Benonita Bismarck, said: “sustainable shipping is key to ensuring that the environment is protected while providing the goods and services for human consumption.”

She was emphatic that the cost of climate change on humankind is quite tragic hence the need for urgent attention to protect the climate.

However, speaking at a stakeholder sensitization seminar, on the impact of the new policy directive, in Kumasi, Ms. Bismarck reckoned that it is likely to result in higher freight rates for all categories of shipments.

It was in this backdrop, that she said the development presents cross-cutting issues of significant interest to both the GSA and the Ghana Maritime Authority (GMA).

“While GMA will focus on providing guidelines for the compliance and monitoring of the same, the GSA will look at the impact of compliance by shipping lines on their charges,” she said.

She underscored that the collaborative effort is indicative of a new era of partnership on issues of common interests with the view of developing Ghana’s maritime industry.

CEO of GSA, Ms. Bismarck speaking with pressmen

The GSA boss said the steps that are being taken by the GSA and GMA should provide an appreciable level of awareness among players in the shipping industry regarding the new policy directive.

“Our collective hope is that stakeholders affected by this IMO Regulations are adequately prepared for the ramifications so that we can collectively manage the unintended consequences on the industry.”

To this end, she said the GSA is committed to making the business of shippers easy, flexible and responsive to changing needs of the shipping industry, and will, therefore, continue to provide up-to-date shipping related information that impinges on shippers.

This expected to be achieved through the ‘ShippersApp’ which will make available and accessible a repertoire of trade and transport information via the mobile phone.

The Director of Finance at the Ministry of Transport, Mr. Emmanuel Num, also said as a prominent member of the IMO and a signatory to the Marpol Convention, it has become imperative for Ghana to ensure the smooth implementation of the new IMO 2020 regulations on Sulphur emissions.

He added that efforts at trade facilitation are therefore very crucial in the quest to ensure that Ghana remains the preferred destination for trade investments and a thriving maritime transport sector within the West Africa sub-region.

Among others, he said the government is considering issues concerning availability of fuel that meets the new requirements, the proper handling of ships coming into Ghanaian ports without the compliant fuel and the availability of facilities to test fuels in use by ships.

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