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Live from SMM Hamburg

Regulation and enforcement in the spotlight at gmec

Regulation and enforcement in the spotlight at gmec
Issues around fair competition were highlighted by speakers and panelists at the global maritime environmental congress (gmec) at SMM with regulation and enforcement the main point of focus.

"Compliance with environmental standards is not easy and it is certainly not cheap." stated Commander Ryan Alliain, chief of the environmental standards division, US Coast Guard headquarters in his keynote speech. "If enforcement is not consistent, there is an economic incentive to not comply. Regulatory and enforcement regimes lose credibility, competitors lose market share and most importantly the environment we all make our living from is compromised."
Signe Brun Jensen, head of sustainability at Maersk Line developed Allain's point in the following panel, "Environmental legislation will continue to drive the industry towards a more sustainable future. My plea here, again, will be for a regulatory level playing field for environment, where there are opportunities for first movers to excel and where minimum standards are raised to a certain level. I think that Maersk has demonstrated that there is an advantage to taking responsibility seriously upon ourself, and we'd like to be able to take that first mover advantage in the future as well."
"A focus on energy efficiency makes good business sense... we have to maintain that link between sustainability and profitability. Maersk line was able in 2013, for the first time, to de-couple energy consumption from business growth with is really a direction we aim to continue in the future," she said, adding that Maersk saved around $760m by cutting its fuel consumption by 1.2m tonnes a year.
Drawing attention to the regulators themselves, Poul Woodall director, environment & sustainability, DFDS asked the question who sets the standards. The maritime industry deserves to be challenged, he argued, but is at the regulator's mercy when it comes to what sustainability is.
The panel agreed with Woodall's assertion that come the first of January 2015, shipping companies will be expected to comply with the new ECA rules, but no sufficient system exists to monitor compliance and enforce the rules.
Representing the shipbuilding industry, Rüdiger Pallentin executive board member at Lloyd Werft Bremerhaven referred to what he sees as "piecemeal" adoption of environmental measures at the shipbuilding stage, with smaller shipowners suffering from their lack of a large technical department to investigate and properly consider the latest technologies.
Günter Eiermann, technical director at Bomin Linde LNG, raised the visibility of the maritime industry as an issue. "No one knows or cares which container their iPad came in, and they do not wish to pay a premium for a green shipping product."
While LNG may solve the PR problem of thick clouds billowing from smoke stacks, it has its own difficulties with the public fearing that the gas is prone to explosions. Shell's  expects LNG to take up some 10-20% of the marine fuel market in the long term, a significant share, but part of a larger fuel mix in the future.