• Legal Armor

Time For The Blue Economy To Become A Green Industry

Shipping in Layman’s understanding is the movement of goods from one place to another through waterways. Shipping has been a catalyst in globalization. The risk associated with it is considerably lesser than other forms of transportation. The Transport Industry heavily relies on shipping for the carriage of goods and constitutes a significant part of International Trade but this has a flip side.

The release of Black Carbon that is caused because of the burning of marine fuel is a major factor that aids in climate change. Ships with heavy fuel oil contain the largest concentrations of black carbon particles. The Diesel on the road produces 3,500 times less Sulphur than that produced by a low standard of marine fuel. Each year in the world 60,000 cardiopulmonary and lung cancer deaths can be attributed to the emissions of effluents from ships. The extension of ports to accommodate big ships is killing marine environments. Additionally, scrapping of old vessels damages the environment and jeopardizes the safety of workers, in particular in developed countries.

The long-expected lifespan of commercial vessels and high replacement costs lead to the irreversible wear of engines and make them less efficient compared to other counterparts. But if we see, there can be various solutions to make it a green industry: Well-Organised Scrapping Mechanism and Regulations, Regulating Emissions by the Engines, Increasing the Efficiency of the Ships, and Advancement in Management of the Ports.

Well-Organized Scrapping Mechanism And Regulations: The International Maritime Organisation adopted the Hong Kong International Convention for the Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships in 2009. The International Maritime Organisation must prioritize ensuring these rules are being followed by the biggest scrappers like India, Bangladesh, and Pakistan. Step one should be to create local branches in these countries to independently gather and review data and to recommend reforms needed to their respective governments. There should be a loan or aid programs by either the World Bank or the Asian Development Bank, that should set standards for the scrapping of ships. The International Maritime Organisation must make a list of developing countries that are performing poorly to discourage the transfer of scrapping till the time any solid convention is followed. 

Regulating Emissions by the Engines: There is a need for stringent International Maritime Organisation emissions rules that would regulate the standards for sulfur that is produced by the combustion of the fuel. Better quality fuel demand will be boosted by stringent emissions requirements. To maintain a fair profit margin in the recovery of initially high investments in the developing nations where existing capability is low, the reward systems (tax discounts and subsidies) would be needed. In regions with domestic petroleum firms, like India and China, the government will have to proactively take essential actions. Another step that can be taken is to install scrubbers for exhaust-gas cleaning on ships. Scrubber components integrate with the exhaust gas and water or the caustic soda to remove up to 99% of SOx and 98% of high-sulfur particles. Currently, these costs are costly and one ship will cost $2 million to $4 million. For starters, few developed countries might indirectly fund by providing a 50% subsidy for scrubbers annually.  The other 50% could be recovered from fuel savings by shipping companies within one year. The demand for scrubbers would grow, while costs would fall as production scales when a stricter emissions standard comes into place. 

Increasing the Efficiency of the Ships: Ships are not consuming diesel solely for the movement in the sea but fuel also produces electricity so individuals can do the day to day activity when on board.  Many energy-saving measures can be implemented to make ships consume less fuel and reduce their emissions to increase fuel efficiency like the US Navy Green Fleet has replaced its older LEDs for energy-efficient lighting.

In order to ensure that they are in proper working order and replacing defective parts in their water-cooling systems, the US Military has also undertaken a temperature control initiative that uses thermostats. Several vessels have installed stern flaps to adjust the water flow under the ship hull to decrease friction and hence improve energy efficiency.

All of which would enable the shipping business to reduce its fuel expense by saving energy while simultaneously decreasing the detrimental effects on human safety and the earth. The industry moving to increase the efficiency of the ships which are thousands in number will drastically reduce the emission of the greenhouse gas as well as the other types of pollution.     

Advancement in Management of the Ports: The authorities of the Port could perhaps evaluate and reveal details on their past constructions and growth prospects to illustrate appropriate public assets management.  They can coordinate with officers involved in transport planning to make the goods shipments more economical and environment-friendly. The optimal capacity of their terminals and the best way of assistance for quick load and unload. The research community will be able to take part in the decision-making procedure if port-business statistics and environmental impact studies results are made available. Environmental NGOs should advocate raising public awareness about port development. 

It's time for the blue economy to become a green industry. 


Apoorva Chandrachur is a 4th-year law student of SVKM's NMIMS Kriti P. Mehta School of Law, Mumbai. They can be contacted at chandrachurapoorva@gmail.com

Edited by - Arushi Gupta

Disclaimer by Legal Armor:

We at Legal Armor do not endorse the Authors' views and are in no way responsible for the said views. We are just publishing the Write-ups as blogs with just light editing, and are in no way responsible for any legal claims.