Although shipping is the most energy efficient mode of mass transport, emissions from the industry have doubled since 1990 and were projected to have increased by over 50% by 2020.
Global warming and the need to reduce levels of carbon dioxide (CO2), nitrogen oxide (NOx) and sulphur oxide (SOx) have become big political issues, with international agreements committing to reducing overall emissions to 40% below 1990 levels by 2002 and 80% below 1990 levels by 2050.
The maritime industry is therefore under increasing political pressure to demonstrate a commitment to reducing its environmental impact in line with global targets. The International Maritime Organisation is under pressure to put agreements in place quickly or face EU or UN intervention.
The IMO MARPOL Convention Annex VI will see a progressive reduction in SOx emissions from ships, with the global sulphur cap reducing from 3.5% in 2012 to 0.50% in January 2020. Progressive reductions have also been introduced for NOx emissions, mainly affecting new builds.
There are also health and safety concerns affecting our members. The risks of exposure to sulphur and soot emissions are increased for seafarers due to the low quality oil used for heavy fuel. Exposure to these pollutants has been linked to lung cancer, and respiratory problems.
Nautilus is campaigning to ensure that any targets for emissions reduction protect the jobs and health and safety of our members and do not create a unfair employment playing field where some countries opt out and are therefore able to significantly reduce costs. We want to ensure that new technologies are investigated as a means of reducing emissions and developing cleaner fuel.
The Union is also concerned that the introduction of any new technologies or emissions reduction schemes do not bring with them an increase in workload for our already over-worked crews. Masters and officers have had to deal with a vast increase in paperwork over the past 20 years and the Union will continue to campaign to ensure emissions reduction does not add to this burden.
Criminalisation is also a major concern for members (see our campaigning work dedicated to this) and pollution is a key area where members are at risk. The Union campaigns to ensure that seafarers are not made to be scapegoats in the event of a pollution incident, and protects and represents members under threat.
In 2010 Nautilus conducted research among its members to find out their views on proposed measures for emission reduction. These views were shared at national and international level to ensure that the views of seafarers were taken into account when reduction targets, and methods for achieving them, were discussed.
Members can ensure they are kept up to date on the deadlines for reductions, and see which countries have committed to the targets, in the Telegraph. The Union’s Professional & Technical Forum also regularly debates global legislation and its effect on the industry. If members have an opinion or interest in taking part in emission reductions debates then you are invited to attend the next P&T Forum.
If you work in the maritime industry and are concerned about the way the IMO and member states are dealing with emissions reduction, but you are not a Nautilus member, join now to ensure that your voice is heard.