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IAPH weighs in on port incentives debate

IAPH weighs in on port incentives debate

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The new head of the International Association of Ports and Harbors (IAPH) has called for a greater harmonisation of standards for LNG bunkering worldwide as a way for shipping to go about reducing its carbon footprint.

However, Patrick Verhoeven, who has just switched jobs, having previously served as secretary-general at the European Community Shipowners’ Associations, has not endorsed recent suggestions from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) who have pitched the International Maritime Organization (IMO) to get ports to make green incentives mandatory.

Splash reported last week on the OECD submitting a proposal to the IMO for its intersessional working group on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from shipping, suggesting port-based incentives can play a larger role, if existing schemes are upscaled, harmonised and become less voluntary and more mandatory in nature.

“In general terms we fully agree that port facilities and incentives have to be part of the measures to achieve the GHG reduction targets that IMO will be setting,” Verhoeven said in one of his first media interviews since taking the IAPH post. “More harmonisation would be welcome at technical level,” he added, citing standards for LNG bunkering as an example.

However, Verhoeven was adamant that financial incentives should remain voluntary.

“Providing incentives is specifically meant to reward ships that voluntarily go beyond international requirements. Changing that into a mandatory system would completely undermine its purpose,” the IAPH managing director said, before adding the caveat: “This being said, there could be scope for reviewing calculation methods so as to achieve more harmonisation and more widespread use.”

IAPH has run an Environmental Ship Index (ESI) for many years. The index is currently applied by more than 50 ports worldwide. They use it to provide incentives to ships that perform better in terms of emissions than what international rules require. The database currently includes 6,000 ships.

Commenting on the suggestions made to IMO, Olaf Merk, a ports expert with the OECD, told Splash last week: “Port-based incentives have huge potential but their current impact is likely to be fairly marginal. If shipping nations can agree on common measures, there is no reason why port nations could not get their heads around expanding and harmonising a system of effective port-based mechanisms.”

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Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.

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