Hong Kong to control ship emissions in its ports

Signal of change / Hong Kong to control ship emissions in its ports

By Futures Centre / 23 Mar 2015

New regulations announced by Hong Kong on 21 March 2015 make it the first jurisdiction in Asia to control ship emissions in its ports. 


The AFS Regulation prohibits ships from applying organotin compounds in their anti-fouling systems. It requires all ships of 400 gross tonnage (GT) and above engaged in international voyages to carry on board an International Anti-Fouling System Certificate issued by the Flag State Administration, signalling full compliance with the Convention. Violations would mean a fine of HK$200,000 and six months of imprisonment. 


Hong Kong NGO Clean Air Network (CAN) has also pressed the city government to implement new anti-pollution measures at the Kai Tak Cruise Terminal.


The requests by CAN include:


- The adoption of shore power

- The use of marine fuels with a sulphur limit lower than 0.5%

- The creation of a Emission Control Area (ECA) in the Pearl River delta.


In a study by Civic Exchange, a switch to 0.5% sulphur fuel could cut avoidable deaths from Ocean Going Vessel (OGV) pollution from 385 to 197. Sulphur dioxide emissions, which are indicative of marine sources, currently surpass WHO pollution guidelines at all Hong Kong monitoring stations bar one. However, the efforts to create an Emission Control Area are constrained by the increasing number of cruise ships docking at Kai Tak Terminal.



Signal spotted by Madhumitha Ardhanari

Image: Let Ideas Compete / Flickr

So what?

These actions represent a holistic approach to pollution control in port areas. However, who should bear the costs for the environmental wellbeing of a port? Several international shipping lines told the South China Morning Post that they were studying ways to minimise the hit. Levying a surcharge on their customers remains the most viable option.


Ships must also comply with emission caps set by the International Maritime Organisation in designated zones. There are three such areas in the world in North America, the Baltic Sea and the North Sea. Shipping lines have increased costs by between US$30 and $90 per standard container on shippers.





Hellenic Shipping News (2015, March, 21) Hong Kong: New regulation on control of harmful anti-fouling systems on merchant ships gazetted today.


Clean Air Network (2015, March, 11) New regulation to require ocean-going vessels to switch to clean fuel while at berth.


Ship and Bunker (2015, January, 15) Hong Kong NGO Urges Shore Power at Cruise Terminal.


Civic Exchange (2012, September, 19) A Price Worth Paying: The Case for Controlling Marine Emissions in the Pearl River Delta.


What might the implications of this be? What related signals of change have you seen?

Please register or log in to comment.