They used to call it being eco-friendly; then we talk in terms of green initiatives and sometimes it’s sustainable shipping or more usually green shipping. Whatever it’s called the real aim is to bring the maritime world together to improve the sustainability of the shipping industry with regard to its environmental, economic and social impacts.
Last February the European Investment Bank (EIB) and ING signed an agreement to provide support through green investments for the European shipping market and it is by such means that green initiatives are being developed and progressed. These sorts of sponsorships of green and sustainable shipping projects are helping to introduce new thinking into this sector.
The IMO has been on the case as well with the ballast waste water and sulphur 2020 regulations showing that sometimes it does take hard regulatory stands to push the shipping world forward. The green push is for less pollution, greater economies in the use of resources and all these need to be paid for. The problem, often mentioned over the past 12 months by ship owners, is that they are the ones who will have to pay for most of these developments.
It would be foolish indeed to think that progress and change on such scales will come at a cheap price. After all, throughout the maritime industry change has always been accompanied by cries of ‘foul’ when the true cost of becoming more efficient or environmentally responsible has cropped up. The pleasing note is that the finance houses and the investors are climbing onboard such initiatives and money talks: if the shipping industry wants to become socially acceptable and environmentally acceptable, then actions need to be taken. Both the financial and regulatory bodies should be applauded for making this move.
Even though the shipping industry is under great pressure from environmental lobbyists, it would not be correct to say that most ship owners are against these developments: ship owners are showing a real willing to improve the environmental performance of their vessels but they are facing serious challenges. Finance is the main one but this is linked with remaining in business and competitive. It is hard to think of any ship owner saying the environment is not on their radar. Compliance with the latest regulations will generate a new era of green shipping and nicer environmental credentials. The shipping industry should be praised for making these leaps of faith.