The May 12 event, hosted by WWL, was held in conjunction with the launch of WWL’s new sulphur policy, which limits the sulphur content in fuel at berth for its vessels to <0.1% in all ports globally. Beijing was a natural venue for the event as China, home to seven of the world’s 10 largest ports, announced a domestic sulphur policy in 2015, with Shanghai as the first port to introduce a 0.5% sulphur limit on April 1 this year.  

Since 2006, the International Maritime Organization has set general limits on sulphur content in ship fuel and created Sulphur Emission Control Areas (SECAs) where emissions of sulphur cannot exceed 0.1%. Sulphur emissions are a proven threat to health and the environment, yet most of the busiest ports on the planet are not within a SECA today, and there is a need for leadership from both governments and industry to improve air quality for populations in and around ports.

Mike Hynekamp, WWL’s Chief Operating Officer for Ocean, introduced the company’s new low-sulphur policy, part of WWL’s environmental front-runner strategy aimed at reducing the impact of the company’s operations at sea, now and in the future.

Dong Leyi, Director of the Chinese Transportation Ministry Maritime Safety Administration (MSA), and Barbara Finamore, Asia Director of the US-based Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), gave updates on the introduction and implementation of the Chinese sulphur regulations. 

Leyi described how the Domestic Emission Control Area (DECA) sulphur regulation is currently being introduced in three key port regions, requiring ships to switch to 0.5% sulphur fuel. He also emphasised the importance of strong enforcement to make sure that all carriers calling at Chinese ports operate on the same level playing field in order to ensure that the regulation delivers the expected environmental results. Based on the new legislation, he said, the MSA has done 611 inspections and found seven violations so far.

Finamore said that by adopting the DECA regulation, China has become a leader in Asia when it comes to controlling air pollution from ships. She noted that in response to robust efforts to clean up air pollution from the shipping industry, companies such as WWL have responded with voluntary clean fuel policies that go beyond minimal compliance. Finamore also presented lessons learned from US and EU enforcement programmes for Chinese leaders to consider as they further develop the DECA enforcement program. She said the NRDC is keen to support efforts by the Chinese government and businesses in cleaning up shipping emissions in China and elsewhere.

The seminar closed with a media roundtable and a small gathering for all participants to further discuss the topics covered.

“Environmental regulations, properly enforced to ensure a level playing field, are a competitive advantage and not a liability for a country,” says Anna Larsson, Global Head of Sustainability at WWL. “This seminar has shown the importance of partnerships across the public and private sectors and recognised the progress we can achieve through joint leadership.”