A new Renaissance in the making
China sure deserves a special mention for its untiring and copious efforts to introduce tougher fuel and vehicle standards on its roads. When we look at the firm resolve and resolute manner with which they have addressed the issue we understand why the world is all praise for China for signing the Paris Agreement at the United Nations on Earth Day, April 22 and pledging to formally to ratify the Agreement before the G20 Hangzhou summit in September this year.
The First step and its impact
China has amended its law to give its government the legal authority to tackle shipping emissions and use Emission Control Areas to set stringent norms for ships in important port areas. China has already started the battle over pollution by adopting a domestic Emission Control Area regulation which requires ships to switch to cleaner marine fuel to reduce pollution when near ports or along the coasts.
The zeal of the country can be ascertained when we see that Shanghai and its neighboring provinces in the Yangtze River Delta (Zhejiang and Jiangsu) decided to accelerate the process by starting to enforce the DECA regulation on April 1, 2016, which is nine months ahead of the scheduled date. It has to be noted that if carried out per se then the regulation would be capable of cutting down sulfur oxides and fine particulate (PM2.5) emissions by about 80% and 60% respectively, when all ships sailing in the said area switch to low sulfur fuel.
Future plans and its blueprints
The first step to keep up their pledge was taken when the DECA was formed. It is the first regulation for controlling shipping emissions adopted in mainland China. Building capacity to effectively implement and enforce standards is critical to ensuring that the DECA is a success.
In mid-April, the NRDC (National Research Development Corporation) China ports team organized a series of workshops in Shanghai and Beijing in which experts interacted with Chinese officials on marine fuel regulation enforcement. NRDC also co-hosted another workshop in Beijing to discuss how to leverage the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) process to drive the adoption of clean port and shipping practices.
The workshops – a brief overview
Two marine fuel regulation enforcement training workshops were hosted by the Shanghai Maritime Safety Administration (MSA) and the Shanghai Transport Commission, as well as the Waterborne Transport Research Institute of the Ministry of Transport (MOT). NRDC invited two experts – Alex Barber, from the California Air Resources Board’s Railroad and Marine Enforcement Section and Professor Johan Mellqvist of the Optical remote sensing group at Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden – to join these enforcement workshops.
Over 80 officials from MOT and the national and local MSA, attended the two marine fuel regulation enforcement workshops. The two experts, along with NRDC’s team introduced the marine fuel enforcement process in California, ship emissions remote measurement campaigns in Europe, and the latest developments in LNG technologies for use in the marine sector and LNG-related safety regulations.
A mock fuel inspection on an oil tanker berthed in the Port of Shanghai was included in the workshop. Alex demonstrated first-hand how to check oil log books, bunker delivery notes, engine temperature and viscosity readings, fuel temperature, viscosity alarms, and more to assess whether a ship is complying with fuel sulfur switching requirements.
Following the training workshops, NRDC co-hosted a workshop on EIAs for port development and upgrades with MOT’s Transport Planning and Research Institute. NRDC invited Nick Yost, one of the founding fathers of the U.S. National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), to introduce EIA processes in the U.S. and California in particular and compare EIA regulations between the U.S. and China. Presentations were made on how EIA processes have driven ports to mitigate health and air quality impacts resulting from port developments and upgrades in the U.S. and the Netherlands.
The Fruits of labor
The workshops were welcomed warmly and its essence ingrained. This statement can be supported when a little over two weeks after the NRDC workshops in Shanghai, the Shanghai MSA caught the first vessel violating China’s ECA regulations. The credit for this was accorded to the methods taught by Alex Barber
China, one of the most populous countries in the world is bent on setting the right example to all by championing the cause of anti pollution. They strive to control pollution on land, air and water. China has proved beyond doubt that the whole world is there to help you, provided that you are willing to help yourself.