Asia takes a short-term approach to emissions

Incentivising green shipping has been a major policy goal in Singapore since 2011 Incentivising green shipping has been a major policy goal in Singapore since 2011

Asia Pacific ports are focusing more on sustainability due to the maritime industry’s increasingly stringent emissions regulations and mounting concerns over local air pollution, writes Sam Whelan.

However, while most would agree on the need to prioritise port sustainability, current policies don’t necessarily take into account the direct risks from long-term climate change.

According to an HSBC commissioned report, Asia Pacific ports could be facing a US$49 billion bill to revamp coastal infrastructure should sea levels rise by 2.3m.

Although the report outlines climate and engineering assumptions based on a very long-term worst case scenario, it certainly provides food for thought for port authorities across the region.

Immediate action

In Hong Kong, solutions are being sought for more immediate environmental concerns. An innovative approach to dealing with the port’s noise and light pollution was recently proposed by a local design firm.

According to Rocco Design Architects, “small-scale offices and studio office units” could be built atop of the terminal buildings at Kwai Tsing. These would block excessive light and noise reaching residential areas nearby the terminal, Rocco claims.


Incentivising green shipping has been a major policy goal in Singapore since 2011 and the launch of its $100 million Maritime Singapore Green Initiative (MSGI).

MSGI was launched with three programmes – Green Ship, Green Port and Green Technology; and was enhanced in 2016 with two additional programmes – Green Awareness and Green Energy.

The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) told GreenPort that, under the MSGI’s Green Ship Programme (GSP), Singapore-flagged ships that reduce carbon dioxide and sulphur oxides emissions can enjoy up to 75% reduction of Initial Registration Fees and up to 50% rebate on Annual Tonnage Tax.

“We have seen some encouraging results from the MSGI,” says MPA sustainability office director, Tan Suan Jow.

“For example, we have more than 430 green ships in our fleet, and about 250 kilo tonnes of CO2 is abated annually by some 50 ships through the higher energy efficiency achieved via the Green Technology Programme. We’ve also jump-started our LNG bunkering through the Green Energy Programme and we’re on-track to be an LNG-ready port by 2020.”

Tan says it’s important to push for common international regulations - such as those stipulated by the IMO - to ensure a level playing field amongst Asia’s competing ports.

“As we are a transhipment hub, competitiveness is very important to us. This is the main reason why Singapore supported the global implementation of 0.5% Low Sulphur Fuel by 2020.”

Following suit

At the same time, other Asian ports appear to be shifting more towards Singapore-style green initiatives.

“We are seeing more emphasis onto environmental protection and sustainability in general. This augurs very well with our aim to work closely with these authorities, to collaborate and share best practices, and to achieve higher collective impact in global sustainability,” says Tan.

He also singled out China as taking a leading role in maritime sustainability.

“Ports in China are doing very substantial work in this area. China has already implemented their Domestic Emissions Control Area in their waters which effectively brought forward the implementation of the global 0.5% Low Sulphur Fuel regulation by a few years.

“The port of Shanghai is looking into shore power for ships and many of China’s inland vessels are already using LNG as bunker fuel. I think their efforts towards greening their ports are very commendable,” adds Tan.


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