These days there is, understandably, a lot of talk about the effects of various industries on the environment. Understandable because damage to the environment is one of the most important issues facing the planet, and thankfully now most industries are beginning to take it into account and try to mitigate against it. And while the shipping industry is currently one of the biggest polluters, it also has a vested interest in reducing its harmful effects, not only for the sake of the planet but also for the sake of its own bottom line, as customers and business partners become more aware of the importance of the environment.
While green shipping is the goal, there is still unfortunately a long way to go, though great strides are being made. In October of last year the International Maritime Organisation agreed to set a cap on the sulphur content of marine fuels, setting a maximum of 0.5 percent to be achieved by 2020, the current limit being 3,500 times that of that set for diesel in European road vehicles. Both environmental concerns and the industry itself welcomed the move, with Maersk applauding the introduction of global regulations which will help level the playing field for international operators.
The World Shipping Council is working with the International Maritime Organisation to reduce the environmental impact of shipping, via the introduction of regulations on such diverse subjects as air quality, noise pollution and the spread of invasive species.
Specific marine habitats have been designated as areas in which particular regulations may apply, in order to help protect marine life from harm, including the damage that loud noise can cause to whales and other cetaceans that are very susceptible to sound. Recycling also plays a major part, with international standards for managing marine waste and the disposal of old vessels and containers having been set.
In the short term, of course, none of this comes particularly cheap, but it is vital if we are to ensure the peaceful co-existence of both a sustainable environment and a sustainable shipping industry.
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