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Over 90% Global Trade is Carried by Maritime Transportation – Expert

…Underlines importance of Maritime Security.

Capt. Caleb Danladi Bako

As the world marks World Maritime Day 2022, with a them, ‘New Technologies For Greener Shipping,’ Capt. Caleb Danladi Bako, a Master Mariner and Maritime Expert/Researcher, writes on the essentiality of sea transports to the global economy, adding that more than 90% of global trade is carried by maritime transportation. (Moderated by Achadu Gabriel).

WORLD Maritime Day is celebrated annually, on the last Thursday of every September. The purpose of the day is to provide an opportunity to focus more attention on the importance of the Maritime Industry and to underline the importance of Maritime Security, Maritime Environment, Safety, and Shipping.

The day also provides an opportunity to emphasize on a particular aspect of the work of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) – a day first observed in 1978 to mark the day of adoption of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) convention in 1958. 

Accordingly, Sea Transportation is essential to the global economy, as more than 90% of global trade is carried by maritime transportation. Shipping is also essential to International Trade because it is a cost-effective means of transporting vast quantities of merchandise throughout the globe.

International shipping enables nations to gain access to essential raw materials for the development of their economies; makes possible the production and distribution of reasonably-priced items and products. Other essential supplies, such as chemicals, refined fuels, and manufactured goods, are also transported in significant quantities via marine transport. 

The theme for the year, ‘New Technologies For Greener Shipping,’ was chosen to reflect the need to support a “green transition” of the maritime industry into a sustainable future.

One of the primary goals of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) is to advance sustainable shipping practices and sustainable maritime, in line with the United Nations’ sustainable development goals (SDG).

According to Secretary-General of the International Maritime Organization, the theme will provide an opportunity for inclusive innovation, research and development, and technological cooperation and to show solutions for decarbonization and a more environmentally-friendly environment. 

The theme will mark the pathway to implementing the 2030 agenda for sustainable development goals (SGA), especially SDG 17 (Partnership for the goals), SDG 13 (Climate change), SDG 14 (Sustainable use of oceans), and SDG 9 (Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure). New technologies for shipping open longer conversations about shipping direction and how technology can be used for a more sustainable future. 

Green Shipping refers to the use of resources and energy to transport people and goods by ships and, specifically, concerns the reduction in such resources and energy to preserve the global environment.

Green Shipping technology adopts procedures to decrease emissions, consume less energy, and be more efficient. The shipping industry has a long tradition of adjusting its practices to keep up with advances in technology.

Due to the growing emphasis on environmental protection, shipping companies have begun to understand the importance of greening. Green technologies are making their way into the shipping industry, and the industry is adapting to the gain. The current and future ship designs are expected to comply with demanding environmental standards. 

The International Maritime Organization has been at the forefront in helping to reduce the impact on the marine industry by regulating exhaust emission, ant-fouling, and ballast water. 

Even though, green shipping is the cleanest and safest means of cargo transit, regulatory compliance and restriction will impose significant compliance costs on shipping companies. However, several ‘green’ technologies have been developed to considerably lessen the shipping industry’s impacts on the global environment. Some of the technologies include the use of LNG Fuel for propulsion. Using LNG as fuel has become a common environmentally-friendly choice for ships. 

Ships can also use liquefied natural gas (LNG) as a fuel alternative. LNG fuel contributes to the reduction of air pollution that is caused by ships, and using a combination of LNG fuel and diesel oil will result in efficient engine performance, which will lead to savings in fuel consumption.

Empirical studies have revealed that, using LNG as fuel for shipping can reduce 85-95% of NOx, 20% of CO2, and 100% of SOx, compared to HFO. The ballast water management plan is a strategy for green shipping.

Vessels take ballast water to maintain stability during their voyage. Ballast water conventions aim to prevent the spread of invasive aquatic species from one region to another by establishing standards for the management and control of ships’ ballast waters and sediments.

To comply with green shipping, a ballast water treatment system was adopted to enable the ballast water pass through a filter for physical treatment to remove harmful organisms.

Other strategies include, but are not limited to, the use of a Sulphur scrubbing system where Sulphur is washed out from the exhaust gas of the engine. Slow steaming and running the engine at a slower speed can reduce fuel consumption in a voyage and cut emissions. 

Applying the best anti-fouling paint has helped to slow the growth of organisms attached to the hull. The condition of the hull is crucial for fuel efficiency. While the demand for global industry increases, the shipping sector is under huge pressure to cut emissions.

Given the amount of greenhouse gas emissions the shipping industry contributes, transition to green shipping practices for a sustainable future is top of the agenda for the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and many others within the industry.

Several different paths may be taken to make shipping a more environmentally-friendly process, including designing a more efficient ship hull, voyage optimization, incorporating a ballast-free system, solar power for cargo ships, and using digital tools in addition to exploring cleaner fuels, reducing environmental pollution limit and ecological impact.

Providing an opportunity for inclusive innovation, research and development, and technological cooperation will provide a solution for decarbonization and more environmentally-friendly shipping.

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