GMA and GSA sensitize maritime industry on Sulphur emissions

By Alexander Nyarko Yeboah, GNA

Tema Sept. 12,
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

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% Global Sulphur Cap on fuel content from 1
January 2020, lowering it from the present 3.5% limit.