During discussions of alternative fuels at Nor-Shipping 2015, LNG was highlighted as a breakthrough success story, but some speakers called for the focus to be extended to other potentials.
Speaking at the Innovation, Investment and Regulation segment on 2 June, Admiral Paul Zukunft, Commandant of the US Coast Guard, told delegates that the current “innovation” in the United States is LNG.
Zukunft said, “20% of the world’s LNG [is in the US] so if you think blue and if you think green and if you think of the emission control act, we need look no further than LNG,” adding that “one of the world’s largest LNG facilities is being built in the state of Louisiana”, the throughput from which, in three to four years, will produce more than can be carried by all the world’s LNG carriers.
Countering this enthusiasm was Lasse Kristoffersen, CEO of Torvald Klaveness, who said, “LNG is one of the future fuels, but I think certainly we should be careful [about] just focusing in on one solution. It is one among others – I think we are all surprised by the electrical car revolution that has come to Norway.”
Wind, wave, and current, as well as battery power and mixed fuels were all flagged as other viable future options and were welcomed by Katharina Stanzel, managing director of tanker operator forum Intertanko.
“I was really happy to hear this morning about fuel mix instead of LNG; that is a shift in debate because if you go back two years, LNG was the answer to everything. It is no longer,” she said, during the Winds of Change segment later in the day.
Stanzel continued, “I am waiting for the moment when the regulator is going to wake up and say: ‘Well actually, LNG is methane. Methane as a gas is much more harmful to the environment than CO2′”.
She asked, “What are we going to do with all those bunkering stations that may not have the operational quality standards that we need to make sure this stuff doesn’t leak?”
She warned, “The next step needs to be taken now before we get into [saying]: ‘[LNG] is the solution to everything’.”
The industry’s environmental performance was rated rather low during the Waves of Change segment, in which José María Figueres Olsen, chairman of environmental lobby group Carbon War Room, participated.
Industry figures, including Stanzel, Stig RemØy (CEO, Olympic Shipping), and Kristin Holth (executive vice-president, global head of shipping, offshore and logistics, DNB Bank) were among those who gave shipping a low to middling score – ranging between 3 and 6 out of 10.
However, they all also agreed that the problem does not lie entirely with industry. Even Olsen took a conciliatory stance, “In the four to five years that the Carbon War Room has been working with the industry, I think it is fair to say that we have seen a major turnaround in the way the issues are being addressed,” he said, calling it “a major shift in the industry”.
Stanzel pointed to governmental tardiness in regulatory matters.
“I don’t want to slag anyone off, but I think we are doing a lot better than a lot of regulatory entities out there,” she said.
She said that governments find it difficult to take a “bigger picture view” and “move policy forward”, hamstrung by a lack of communication.
“What we see day-to-day in Brussels is that the different directorates don’t actually know what each other are doing and are not aware of where they are trying to head.
“Very often we organise meetings with the different directorates for the sole purpose of getting them together so that they can learn from each other what they are doing. It’s regional, it’s Brussels, but I am sure the same happens everywhere else,” said Stanzel.
This is one reason why the industry is sceptical about the value of the United Nation’s 2015 climate change conference in Paris in December, of which Olsen of the Carbon War Room has high hopes, not least for movement to impose taxes on ship emissions, a move that he claims has been effective in Costa Rica.
But BjØrn Kjærand Haugland, executive vice-president and chief sustainability officer for DNVGL, said that industry should not wait for action to be imposed after Paris.
“We have the tools and technology [to measure for environmental progress], ” he said. “We should not wait for regulators, but come together, take leadership [with joint] goals and ambitions, then get together with regulators to achieve a smart regulation.
Additionally, Stanzel clarified that “being proactive and being transparent are two different things”.
She suggested that it is no longer the case of industry’s lack of transparency needing a push from environmental bodies. She said that for years, Intertanko has collected data and made efforts to “find models for energy efficiency”, and that it has conducted sister ship studies for three years now. She said that industry leaders’ efforts to highlight shipping’s compliance achievements at environmental meetings seem to be largely ignored.
“Being transparent is based on a mutual trust that we can move forward and develop something together,” she said.
The power of messaging to invoke the leadership required to achieve more effective environmental development in the shipping industry was addressed by communications expert Veronica Lie, executive vice-presidents, strategy and communications, of corporate growth-enabling organisation Xyntéo.
Lie said that ineffective messaging comes from addressing the wrong audience and being silent for too long, which latter builds up a sense of distrust towards the industry from the public – as is the case currently with the oil and gas industry.
She suggested that environmental meetings might not be the “right audience” for the industry’s messaging. She said that the right audience might be “the public” and that effective messaging would go beyond “demonstrating compliance” to demonstrate “relevance and future-fitness” for that audience.
“What is the point [of messaging at the Paris climate change conference] and what would be the outcome? Is it more space, or a pat on the back?” asked Lie, who said that meanwhile the influential public perception of shipping is efficiently shaped by stories such as air of port cities being poisoned by carbon emissions from ships.
“So if we are talking about a communications exercise, how we get this story out, you need to demonstrate how you are [positively] impacting the public,” said Lie.