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Month: December 2017

Snow in Europe triggers transport chaos

Traffic jam near Mülheim, western Germany, 11 Dec 17Image copyrightAFP
Image captionA traffic jam near Mülheim – one of many in snow-bound Germany

Heavy snow blanketing northern Europe has caused many flight cancellations and delays at Schiphol airport in the Netherlands and Brussels airport.

About 400 flights were cancelled at Schiphol – one of Europe’s biggest airports – and about 200 in Brussels.

Travellers have been advised to check flight updates at home, rather than set off for the airport in bad weather.

In Germany the heavy snow has caused many car crashes and traffic jams, as well as train delays.

More than 300 flights were cancelled on Sunday at Frankfurt airport, the busiest in Germany.

The Dutch airport at Eindhoven was temporarily closed because of the snow, and many Dutch schools remained shut on Monday.

Conditions improved later at Brussels airport, where planes were able to take off from one de-iced runway. But Brussels Airlines scrapped all its flights.

In the UK, dozens of flights were cancelled at Heathrow and road conditions were described as treacherous in many areas.

The heavy snow left thousands of British homes without electricity and hundreds of schools were shut on Monday.

Storm surge at Marseille, 11 Dec 17Image copyrightAFP
Image captionA storm surge at Marseille: high winds lashed many French coastal areas

In France 32 regions were put on an emergency “orange alert” footing, as a storm nicknamed “Ana” battered the Atlantic coast, with winds gusting as high as 150km/h (93mph). Later the alert was reduced to eight regions in the north and far south.

There were also avalanche warnings in some French Alpine ski resorts, after a metre (3.3ft) or more of fresh snow fell above 2,000 metres.

Nationwide at least 120,000 homes had power cuts on Monday, most of them in the Loire Valley.

The motorway section between Calais and Boulogne was closed after heavy snow in northeastern France.

Snow in Venice, 10 Dec 17Image copyrightEPA
Image captionNot what you expect in Venice: snowflakes on the gondolas

Snow also spread southwards to Italy, causing some travel disruption in northern regions.

The snow caused the closure of schools in Liguria, Piedmont and Tuscany, Italy’s La Stampa daily reported.

Ferry services to the islands off Naples were suspended because of strong winds.

Val d'Isère, 10 Dec 17Image copyrightREUTERS
Image captionVal d’Isère, France: The plentiful snow is generally good news for ski resorts

World’s steepest funicular rail line to open in Switzerland

Schwyz-Stoos funicular, hailed as triumph of engineering, goes into service on Sunday

The Schwyz-Stoos funicular in the Alpine resort of Stoos.
 The Schwyz-Stoos funicular in the Alpine resort of Stoos. Photograph: Urs Flueeler/EPA

Swiss engineering and technology have reached new heights with the opening of the world’s steepest funicular rail line.

The €44.6m Schwyz-Stoos funicular (Standseilbahn Schwyz-Stoos in German), which goes into public service on Sunday, has been hailed as a triumph of modern design engineering.

A level-adjusting function will allow the space-age-looking carriages, accessible to all users, to remain horizontal while speeding up the mountain at up to 10 metres a second.

It is due to be opened on Friday by the president of the Swiss federal council, Doris Leuthard, in the Alpine resort of Stoos, 1,300 metres (4,300ft) above sea level in central Switzerland.

The train, two lines of cylindrical carriages, resembling beer barrels, will allow passengers to remain upright at all times, even as they ascend – or descend – the 1,720-metre track, climbing or descending 743 metres along gradients as steep as 110% (47.7º).

It will run from the valley station near Schwyz into the mountain village of Stoos, population 100, about 30 miles (50km) south of Zurich.

Ivan Steiner, a spokesman for the railway, said the funicular replaced an older one that had operated since 1933. “After 14 years of planning and building, everyone is very proud of this train,” he said.

The Schwyz-Stoos funicular.
 The funicular. Photograph: Urs Flueeler/EPA

The Gondola Project, a website dedicated to cable-propelled transport systems, said the scheme had faced a number of challenges even before work had begun. Then when construction started in July 2013, it faced hold-ups.

“Designers analysed 15 different options before selecting the existing route alignment and technology,” it wrote.

A traditional aerial gondola funicular was ruled out because it would have had to pass through an active shooting range.

“The Stoos funicular is designed with an inclination adjustment system. This means that the four 34-passenger rotating cabins on each train remain horizontally level throughout the journey.”

The Gelmerbahn funicular at Bern was previously the world’s steepest, with a maximum gradient of 106%.

The East Cliff Lift funicular railway in Hastings, built in 1902, is the steepest in England, with a gradient of 78%.

Curious City: The team that keep New Zealand’s traffic moving

“You don’t walk in the door knowing you’re going to have a relaxing day. Every day brings you something you haven’t seen the day before, or ever before.”

Such is the nature of Roxanne Hilliard’s job, as manager of the operations centre that aims to keep traffic moving as smoothly as possible during any number of incidents and disruptions.

Based in the Wellington suburb of Johnsonville, the New Zealand Transport Agency’s Wellington Transport Operations Centre (WTOC) manages traffic flow in 12 urban centres from New Plymouth to Dunedin.

A Wellington Transport Operations Centre staff member monitors the traffic situation from the organisation's ...


A Wellington Transport Operations Centre staff member monitors the traffic situation from the organisation’s Johnsonville office.

It does so using 300 highway cameras, countless intersection cameras supplied by organisations such as police and local councils, and radio communication from police and emergency services.

It is a complex business, with an algorithm determining how often traffic signals should change, depending on traffic flow.

The centre can deal with anything from wandering rural stock to vehicle crashes and fires.


The centre can deal with anything from wandering rural stock to vehicle crashes and fires.

Crashes are a common source of traffic disruption, and this is when the team, which works round the clock, has to kick into action.

“For example, if there’s a crash on State Highway 2 [in Lower Hutt], we might look at what the Melling [signal] phasing is doing, and we might give priority to a different part for longer, or hold a few people back so they can clear the incident, or we might push one lane a bit faster.”

The centre also has other tools at its disposal, such as electronic road signs (variable messaging systems) and social media sites to inform people of delays and alternative routes.

The centre monitors and manages traffic from Taupo to the bottom of the South Island.

Ross Giblin

The centre monitors and manages traffic from Taupo to the bottom of the South Island.

The control room has almost 30 screens set up for traffic monitoring, including rotating live traffic cameras and weather forecasts.

It has dedicated staff looking after the South Island, Wellington’s Victoria, Terrace and Arras tunnels, and the police desk, as well as a specialist social media communicator.

It also manages traffic signals for major events, such as the University of Otago graduation ceremonies that took place in Dunedin last week.

Last month's train strike across the Wellington region put extra stresses on the Johnsonville team.


Last month’s train strike across the Wellington region put extra stresses on the Johnsonville team.

Each day is a challenge, but none have more been more challenging than last November’s double-whammy of the 7.8-magnitude Kaikōura earthquake, followed by floods the next day.

“But the best thing about that was the way Wellington came together and dealt with the situation collectively.”

In November, a 24-hour rail industry strike gave the team a fresh challenge, as the average 32,000 weekday passenger journeys were cancelled and people looked for other ways to commute.

Centre manager Roxanne Hilliard says every day is challenging, but everyone is passionate about helping make drivers' ...


Centre manager Roxanne Hilliard says every day is challenging, but everyone is passionate about helping make drivers’ journeys as efficient as possible.

Despite the team’s efforts, the increased traffic volumes resulted in 35-minute morning peak delays into the city on State Highway 2, and 15-minute delays using SH1.

There was an 11 per cent increase in westbound traffic during the morning peak on SH58 from Hutt Valley towards Porirua, and a 9 per cent increase on the afternoon return journey.

“Every day’s a different day, and every day’s a hard day,” Hilliard said.

“We can be dealing with things like wandering stock in rural areas … then you can be dealing with a truck fire, or a breakdown.

“But we have a really lovely culture here, so we live and die by our culture.

“You’ve got to be able to invest yourself, and everyone here is really invested in what they’re doing.

“There isn’t one person who works here that doesn’t have a passion for your journey, to get you safely from Point A to Point B and to be informed on that journey.”

 – Stuff

Another Manawatu Gorge decision delay blow to transport operators and business

The NZ Transport Agency had suggested it would make a decision by the middle of this month, but now says more work will be needed to choose between the four options.

The region’s mayors have welcomed the delay but the news is a blow to Dannevirke bus operator Derek Rose.

“They’re [NZTA] bloody hopeless, but this delay doesn’t surprise me,” he said. “This is a pretty sad day for us guys. It’s getting to the point now as to how we can make our business work. There’s a huge cost involved in running over the Saddle Rd, but the NZTA couldn’t care less about us.

“It’s been a joke and everyone has had a gutsful. Some days I think it’s hardly worth carrying on, but the bills keep coming. Now I just want a bit of honesty from NZTA.”

Slips in April closed the Manawatu Gorge. Photo / File
Slips in April closed the Manawatu Gorge. Photo / File

The highway through the gorge, a vital link for more than 200,000 people who live in Hawkes Bay and Wairarapa, has been closed since a number of slips in April.

Ross I’Anson, NZTA’s regional transport system manager, said good progress has been made on assessing the four short-listed options, but more discussions are needed before it can make a decision on the best option with confidence.

“We are working closely with local councils and other stakeholders to make the right long-term decision,” he said. “It’s vital we have strong support on the new route as it will represent a very significant long-term investment and it will need to serve the region and the country for decades to come.”

I’Anson said the NZTA also wants a solution as early as possible, and the latest delay was not expected to delay the overall project.

“We understand this may be frustrating for communities and road users. We’re absolutely committed to finding the best long-term solution that will support economic development and growth for the central and lower North Island through a modern, safe, efficient and resilient state highway network.”

Tararua District mayor Tracey Collis said the chosen options would need significant investment, so it had to be done properly.

“It’s about making the right, long-term, resilent decision and we are going to hold NZTA to account when it comes to the construction timeframe. We don’t want any more delays,” she said.

“But I understand the angst and uncertainty and extra anxiety this delay causes people.”

Tararua deputy mayor Alan Benbow, a member of the business case group assessing the options, believes the decision delay is welcome news.

“It’s a very complex solution in terms of option 4,” he said. “That option is the linking into Palmerston North and is a much bigger roading solution for the region.”

Benbow said he believes when the NZTA got the weight of opinion from regional leaders last Friday, it had to reconsider its decision.

And neither Benbow nor Collis believe the delay has anything to do with the Labour Government wanting NZTA to come up with a cheaper option.

The four shortlisted options:

• A $300m-$400m upgrade of Saddle Rd to state highway standard.

• A $350m-$400m road north of the Saddle.

• A $350m-$450 new road south of the Saddle.

• A $450m-$550m route south of the Manawatu Gorge, which the region’s mayors prefer.

Option 4 would build a second bridge over the Manawatu River, connecting with the regional ring road in the Manawatu.

All options would take between five and seven years.

Gorge closures costly:
• In his report, The Achilles Heel of State Highway 3, Corporate Logistics’ Gincarlo Hannan raises questions about the time taken to explore a permanent solution.
• The Manawatu Gorge has been closed for more than 550 days since 2004.
• Corporate Logistics has calculated the daily loss to the region’s economy to be $100,000, equating to more than $55 million in the last 13 years.
• One of the main contributors to the unstable rockface along the east-west corridor was road widening and straightening between 1920 and 1940, and 1960 and 1980, Gincarlo Hannan says.
• The 14-month closure of the gorge in 2011 cost $20 million to fix, plus $10m for upgrades and maintenance on alternative routes.

Rangiriri section of Waikato Expressway opens, complete with Rangiriri Paa site

On Saturday morning, the Rangiriri Paa site was unveiled by Waikato-Tainui and New Zealand Transport Agency. The paa ...


On Saturday morning, the Rangiriri Paa site was unveiled by Waikato-Tainui and New Zealand Transport Agency. The paa site coincided with the Rangiriri section of the Waikato Expressway being officially completed.

Take the Rangiriri turn-off in north Waikato and you will see the new symbolic Rangiriri Paa site.

The paa site was significant in the battle of Rangiriri during the Waikato Land Wars of 1863, where around 500 Maaori defended the paa as it was attacked by a British force of more than 1400 men.

It is a crucial event for Waikato-Tainui and occurred after Te Wherowhero agreed to become the first Maaori King in 1857. The move was seen by the colonial government as a threat to the British monarchy.

The opening of Rangiriri Pa was attended by, front row from left, Waikato District Council Mayor Allan Sanson, Te ...


The opening of Rangiriri Pa was attended by, front row from left, Waikato District Council Mayor Allan Sanson, Te Atawhai Paki, King Tuheitia Paki and Minister for Crown/M??ori Relations Kelvin Davis. At the far right at front is NZTA chief executive Fergus Gammie

A pou whenua was unveiled on Saturday that represents the 1863 battle, highlighting the imprisonment of Maaori warriors following the battle, the role women and youth played during the battle and the 1995-2010 Raupatu settlements.

The paa project was part of the opening on Saturday morning of the Rangiriri section of the Waikato Expressway. The paa project is a result of a partnership between the New Zealand Transport Agency and Waikato-Tainui.

The 4.8-kilometre expressway section guides traffic west of the paa site and is part of seven roading projects across the district costing $2.2 billion.

Kiingi Tuheitia, Minister for Crown/Maaori Relations and Tourism Kelvin Davis, NZTA chief executive Fergus Gammie and Waikato District Council Mayor Allan Sanson were in attendance.

“We believe we’ve built a new way of working together,” Waikato-Tainui tribal executive Te Arataura chair Rukumoana Schaafhausen​ said.

“Rangiriri should always be remembered as a catalyst for change. [It shows] how we can move past our differences to shape a better future for our tamariki, mokopuna and whaanau.”

Waikato-Tainui negotiator for outstanding claims Rahui Papa ​said the paa looked “absolutely fantastic”.

He said talks with NZTA and Waikato-Tainui on the project began four years ago and said the sites around the Waikato would be good for tourism.

“When people come out of our airport, they don’t turn left into Auckland, they turn right into the Waikato.

“We are very, very keen on tourism … we think that this could be a cultural tourism spot in times to come, and that the trails of those commemorations could also be part and parcel of a tourism strategy.”

Papa added it was important the country’s stories, such as the battle at Rangiriri, are taught under the school curriculum.

“Making sure that Rangiriri, Rangiaowhia, Orakau … all of those particular sites should be remembered in the hearts and minds of every student in Aotearoa.”

China’s first ‘smart ship’ is making waves

The concept of “smart,” which has become ubiquitous in our daily digital life, has also started sailing along in the shipping industry.

At the just-concluded Marintec China 2017 exhibition in Shanghai, the first Chinese-made “smart ship,” named Great Intelligence, debuted to show the nation’s world-first achievement in this area.

It is dubbed the world’s first smart ship, a name coined by its developer China State Shipbuilding Corp, as it is the first ship awarded the “cyber-safe,” “cyber-perform” and “cyber-maintain” smart-vessel classifications by Lloyd’s Register. It has also been classified an “intelligent ship” by the China Classification Society.

In the China Classification Society’s definition, smart ships are those able to capture data covering the ocean environment, logistics, ports and their own equipment in real-time, which helps them autonomously pick and adjust routes and manage and maintain equipment and cargo on board in real time.

That helps ships sail safer and reduce energy consumption. And that trend in shipbuilding is spreading worldwide.

Alongside China, South Korea’s Hyundai Heavy Industries in July launched its Integrated Smart Ship Solution, a collection of information technology systems aiming to optimize navigation by collecting real-time data.

Global race

Three ships built by another Korean shipyard, Hanjin Heavy Industries and Construction Group, have been certified “cyber-safe” by Lloyd’s.

Japan, meanwhile, has set smart ship development as the key task for its shipping industry for the coming five years. In December 2012, the nation started a research project on smart ship applications by bringing together 29 organizations and companies including its ship classification society, Nippon Kaiji Kyokai.

In November 2015, Norwegian classification agency DNV GL started a project with Japanese shipping giant NYK group to collect and monitor maritime data. Since then, four of the group’s container ships have delivered data to DNV GL’s digital platform, which created a “digital twin” to simulate the ships’ operations and will help monitor and predict maintenance in real time.

DNV GL announced at the Marintec China exhibition that it will launch a sector — specialized in digital shipping solutions next year.

But smart ship development is still in its infancy worldwide, said Arthur Brunvoll, owner and chairman of Brunvoll, a Norwegian ship equipment builder.

“There even aren’t unified rules on these ships, with only a few classification societies having released standards,” he said.

“Shipyards and ship equipment builders are eager to participate in this trend, but most of us would only add digital technologies in production and equipment maintenance, without knowing accurately how to define a smart ship.”

The key to whether a ship is smart currently may be how many “smart” functions it has.

The “cyber-safe” ships from Hanjin Heavy Industries and Construction Group, for example, cannot be considered smart ships, said Gu Yiqing, a chief designer of smart ships at the Shanghai Merchant Ship Design and Research Institute, as they don’t meet all conditions such as real-time maintenance.

Lloyd’s Register and the China Classification Society are the only two societies which have released standards for smart ships so far.

“(But) other nations and companies are surely accelerating design rules or developing smart ships,” said Fang Quan, vice president of the research institute.

“They may not be willing to publish anything right now as rules on ships are complicated and important for national strategies, but smart ships have become an inevitable trend for the coming decades, a key sector to upgrade nations’ manufacturing competitiveness.”

Although there is no specific research or data on the potential market size for smart ships, the concept will definitely boost the global shipping industry if it takes off, said Martin Stopford, president for research at Clarksons, the world’s largest ship broker.

“While Uber has changed transport on land, boosting the frequency of taking taxies, connecting ships worldwide will significantly enhance global logistics and ensure shipping safety,” he said.

“That will greatly bolster the recovery of the shipping industry from the downturn seen over the past decade, especially if Asian countries try digital solutions to connect ports — it’s the region where most of the world’s people are.”

Connected ships

“Connection,” as he mentioned, will become the next phase of smart ships. Ships with smart functions worldwide have remote control rooms behind them, which analyze their statistics and feed back whether to change routes or if equipment needs maintenance.

The data collection is thanks to the development of the Internet and satellites, which help transmit and receive signals on machinery, ocean conditions and locations worldwide in real time.

Although China has developed the world’s first smart ship, its remote control “back office” is limited by the fact it has only one ship to serve and receive data from, Fang said.

“But it is open to all ships which are willing to connect and will be in charge of more smart ships in the future,” Fang said.

Before ships as a whole become smart, advanced shipping equipment companies have already added “connection” to their suite of services to win leading positions in the market.

Also during the Marintec China exhibition, Swedish-Swiss multinational ABB opened a remote control center in Shanghai named the Collaborative Operation Center, which is able to monitor its equipment onboard on time all over the world.

Apart from its own equipment such as turbocharging systems, motors and propellers, ABB has also been working with other equipment makers to extend digital services.

The company had eight such centers across the world before opening the Shanghai Center, connecting more than 700 ships. By 2020, it expects to monitor equipment in 3,000 ships around the globe.

“Smart equipment is the basis for smart ships,” said a shipping engineer at a classification society who asked not to be named.

A single smart ship is just a start to show a nation’s progress in smart shipping, Fang said.

Helped by digital technologies, the ship will avoid accidents caused by manual operations — “which account for over 80 percent of the total globally” — and will save energy and costs, as shipowners will be alerted to maintenance requirements in time instead of regularly overhauling and maintaining equipment.

“I bet in future most new ships will be smart ships,” Fang said. “They are the key for the coming smart shipping market, encouraging nations worldwide to take a leading role in the trend.”
Source: Shanghai Daily

Oil Steadies Above $57 Amid Supply Disruptions Around the World

Oil steadied above $57 a barrel in New York as the threat of supply disruptions from the North Sea to OPEC member Nigeria and reduced U.S. drilling all suggested the global surplus may continue to fade.

Futures added 0.5 percent in New York, matching Friday’s gain. U.S. explorers trimmed the number of rigs by four to 747 last week, according to Baker Hughes data. A Nigerian oil union announced an indefinite strike while the country’s fellow OPEC members pressed on with efforts to clear a crude surplus. Ineos repeated that a crack in a North Sea pipeline will take two to four weeks to fix.

Oil is set for a second yearly gain as the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies trim production to drain a global glut. While the group has extended cuts through the end of 2018, it faces a challenge from output in the U.S., which is forecast to surge next year to a record 10 million barrels a day.

“Investors remain bullish on oil as global growth looks strong, OPEC has extended cuts throughout 2018 and geopolitical risk has made its way back to the oil market,” said Jens Naervig Pedersen, an analyst at Danske Bank A/S in Copenhagen.

WTI for January delivery, which expires Tuesday, rose 30 cents to $57.60 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange as of 1:28 p.m. in London. Total volume traded was about 30 percent below the 100-day average.

Brent for February settlement gained 29 cents to $63.52 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange. Prices fell 0.3 percent last week. The global benchmark traded at a premium of $5.92 to February WTI.

The Brent net-long position — the difference between bets on a price increase and wagers on a drop — rose 1.8 percent to a record 544,051 contracts, according to data from ICE Futures Europe. Money managers cut their WTI net-long position by 0.4 percent to 390,874 futures and options in the week ended Dec. 12, the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission said Friday.

Source: Bloomberg

Agency hopes to cut shipping emissions

A new agency opened in Fiji hopes to cut down the greenhouse gases being pumped out by the thousands of ships criss-crossing the Pacific.

A Pacific Basin Shipping boat on the water in Gisborne the morning of the earlier 7.1 earthquake and subsequent tsunami warning in the area.

Photo: RNZ / Claire Eastham-Farrelly

The Pacific Community said old ships are a big contributer to the region’s greenhouse gas emissions.

The new agency, called the Maritime Cooperation Centre, hopes to kick off a transition to low-carbon shipping.

The SPC’s Thierry Nervale said it will be part of a global network, and will work to create greater awareness and make greener technology available to companies in the region however it has got its work cut out for it.

“The main issue is to access new technologies and to ensure new technologies are available for domestic fleets in the Pacific which is one of the main issues,” he said.

“It will be quite expensive, particularly for ship owners because we have very small shipping companies.”

Shipping industry must take ‘urgent action’ to meet Paris climate goals

A declaration launched today at the “One Planet” climate summit hosted by French president Emmanuel Macron has urged the shipping industry to meet the Paris climate goals.

The “Tony de Brum” declaration – named after the celebrated Marshallese politicianwho died earlier this year – calls for shipping to take “urgent action” to contribute to meeting the 2C and 1.5C goals of the Paris accord.

The declaration was released at the summit in the French capital, which marks two years since the Paris Agreement on climate change was adopted in the city.

It was signed by 35 countries, including the UK, France, Denmark, Germany, Canada, the Marshall Islands, Chile and New Zealand.

Shipping produces at least 2% of global CO2 emissions, but the International Maritime Organisation, the London-based UN agency responsible for regulating shipping, has struggled to set its own emissions reduction target.

Other key news from the summit included an announcement from the World Bank that it will largely stop financing oil and gas exploration after 2019. In addition, Macron described Donald Trump’s announcement in July that he intends withdraw the US from the Paris accord as “extremely aggressive”.

The new shipping declaration comes amid a current push within the IMO to at last develop a decarbonisation strategy, something it has long been under pressure to do.

Last month at the COP23 climate summit in Bonn, Germany, Carbon Brief spoke to Edmund Hughes, the IMO’s head of air pollution and energy efficiency, about the development of the organisation’s new climate strategy.

In the wide-ranging interview, Hughes also addressed how shipping can hope to align itself with the 1.5C goal of the Paris Agreement when the IMO is facing accusations of “corporate capture”.


The IMO has struggled to make progress on tackling its emissions since it was first mandated by the international MARPOL convention to clean up the sector in 1997. The IMO’s last greenhouse gas study, published in 2014, showed that emissions are likely to grow significantly as global demand for trade continues to rise.

International shipping was not included in the final text of the Paris Agreement, but Hughes tells Carbon Brief the IMO and its member states recognise that it has to make efforts to contribute to the Paris goals.

The IMO has promised to lay out its “initial” climate strategy in April 2018, with a final revised version set to come out in 2023. Earlier this year, delegations from around the world met at the IMO headquarters in London and agreed a seven-point plan for a draft of the strategy.

Seven-point draft strategy for reducing greenhouse gases agreed by the Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) in July.

A set of seven strategic directions for 2018-2023, adopted earlier this week by the IMO Assembly, also included one on developing solutions to minimise shipping’s contribution to climate change.

Carbon Brief asked Hughes about what kind of strategy the IMO is developing for decarbonising shipping. He said:

“We’re a regulator…so we develop mandatory rules that ships have to comply with, and we’ve done that for technical and operational aspects of shipping. The strategy that’s being developed now…is really looking at what further measures can be undertaken.

“Now the initial strategy, it’s a good question what will be in it, but there was agreement last July that there should be a sort of outline, a draft outline structure. That would include, importantly, obviously, sort of preamble introduction context, but very importantly, a vision of what the sector and where the sector should be going this century, essentially, in terms of its carbon emissions.”

Hughes said there is a suite of measures being considered, including both mandatory measures (see below) and voluntary measures, such as the need for more research and development on innovative technologies, and low-carbon alternative fuels.

Concrete target?

When asked whether the new strategy will have any concrete emissions reduction targets, Hughes said that is still part of the discussion. He said:

“The negotiation is looking at the various options that could be used to provide a target…If we have, for example – and thinking hypothetically – a vision that says ‘we need to remove, reduce all CO2 emissions from international shipping within this century’, or ‘by the end of the century’ or ‘in the second half of the century’, or whatever words you want to use…well, then you need to have an ambition that matches that target. That ambition then has to set goals and objectives, or, as has been referred to me, aspirational objectives.

“But when we look at setting targets for international shipping, whatever we do, there has to be a recognition also that currently…what [shipping] uses as its fuel: hydrocarbon fuel, liquid hydrocarbon fuel mainly. We use over 300m tonnes a year of bunker fuels…and we have to somehow replace those bunker fuels with some other [sustainable fuel or innovative technology].”


Today’s Tony de Brum declaration reiterates a commitment to the Paris Agreement’s goal of both holding global temperature rise to “well below” 2C and “pursuing efforts” to limit warming since the pre-industrial era to 1.5C.

Its signatories “confirm that international shipping, like all other sectors of human activity, must take urgent action in consideration of these vital objectives”.

Speaking to Carbon Brief about the 1.5C goal last month, Hughes said that while the IMO has received proposals from some countries that it should align itself with the Paris Agreement’s 1.5C goal, not all governments necessarily agree with this. He said:

“We work by consensus in the IMO and we seek agreement across with all governments, because that helps us move forward, particularly with this initial stage of the strategy, it’s important that everyone feels that we’re starting on the right place.

“In terms of the goal, 1.5C is ambitious for everybody, frankly, at this stage now. We recognise that, but also we recognise that those countries who are most at risk from climate change really need to see action. And, in fact, the [IMO working group on greenhouse gas emissions] that met just a couple of weeks ago [in October] recognised that, to a degree: […] it supported the need for early action. So it’s how you do it now, and again what is appropriate for the shipping sector.”

Corporate influence

In October, the NGO InfluenceMap published a report accusing the shipping industry of aggressively lobbying the IMO to obstruct climate change action for shipping.

This lobbying has ensured shipping remains the only sector in the world not currently subject to any emission reduction measures, InfluenceMap said.

The report singled out three industry trade associations – International Chamber of Shipping (ICS), the Baltic and International Maritime Council (BIMCO) and the World Shipping Council  – as having collectively lobbied to delay implementation of any climate regulations.

InfluenceMap also found that 31% of nations were represented in part by direct business interests at the most recent IMO environmental committee meeting. The report said:

“The IMO appears the only UN agency to allow such extensive corporate representation in the policy making process.”

All three trade bodies have denied they are obstructing climate action. WSC says it has offered concrete proposals for both short- and long-term carbon reduction and co-sponsored a proposal to reduce CO2 emissions, although this did not include binding sector-wide greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets. Similarly, ICS’s director of policy and external relations, Simon Bennett, says the shipping industry, in fact, played a large part in persuading IMO member states to develop a strategy to reduce emissions following the adoption of the Paris Agreement.

Carbon Brief asked Hughes to respond to concerns that business interests are overly represented in the IMO. He said:

“Well, we have formally responded [to these claims]. We’ve made clear that the delegations is a matter for the governments who attends IMO… It’s not [the secretariat of IMO] who decides who attends. It’s up to the governments to decide.

“We have about 70 observer organisations who attend IMO and they come from a range representing the industry, representing environmental NGOs, representing the seafarers, another important component of our work…

“It would be strange, frankly, if an international regulator, for a sector like shipping, didn’t have industry representation providing input. They have a lot of the technical understanding of the shipping sector: ships are highly technical machines…To say we’ll be able to operate as a good regulator without input from the industry, I’d be surprised.”

Non-discriminatory principle

In contrast to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which recognises the principle of “common but differentiatedresponsibilities” (often referred to as “CBDR”) and capabilities depending on different national circumstances, the IMO has a non-discriminatory guiding principle. This talks about “no more favourable treatment”, with every ship treated the same.

The IMO is still making efforts to reconcile those two principles, Hughes told Carbon Brief:

“It’s very important we do so because, obviously, the developing countries want to see whatever [emissions reduction strategy] the IMO develops…recognise the CBDR principle. But, at the same time, the way we regulate shipping, international shipping, is to say ‘well all ships are the same’. So, that’s one of the areas where we’re having to work quite hard to try and get a compromise…

“This is a very important principle we have, because if ships were treated differently based on their flag state, the country on which they’re registered, then you would undermine, frankly, the whole international regulatory regime. Because why would anybody go under a flag statewhere they were having greater regulations imposed on them than another flag state…

“That’s not like a power station or a cement factory, so it’s much harder to say ‘well we’re going to control you’. So, we have to get agreement that all ships will have to comply…Otherwise we could suffer from things like carbon leakage, which again we want to ensure that any measures, we don’t have those sorts of problems.”

Technical measures

The IMO has implemented some carbon cutting measures in recent years, said Hughes. The mandatory Energy Efficiency Design Index (EEDI), for instance, currently requires new ships to be 10% more energy efficient than they were in the baseline 2000-2009 period. This will be pushed up to 20% in 2020 and 30% in 2025.

However, this is just for new ships. With 40,000 to 45,000 ocean going ships currently in use and with 1,000-2,000 new ones built each year, it will take decades to change all those to newer, more energy efficient ships. “It is a problem, I’m not going to deny it, that is a challenge,” said Hughes.

The IMO has also developed the Ship Energy Efficiency Management Plan (SEEMP) which aims to make the existing fleet more energy efficient in the way it operates, such as making sure the ship is set up correctly in the water, keeping the hull clean and using different operational practises, such as weather routing, says Hughes.

An oil consumption monitoring programme is also set to be introduced next year. From 2019, ships over 5,000 tonnes will have to collect data on the fuel oil they consume and report on it through their flag state to the IMO. Data on things such as distance and time travelled will also be collected.

The IMO also has several programmes geared at building technical cooperation and capacity building.

But Hughes insisted the IMO recognises these measures can only go so far. “If we’re going to sort of go further we have to look at other measures, and that’s part of the discussion now,” he said.

The IMO has also begun to look at market-based measures again, which stalled in the years ahead of the Paris Agreement due to fears of the impact it would have on economies. Hughes said:

“We’ve restarted that discussion now. In fact, when you look at the draft strategy, we have short, medium and long-term measures being proposed in there. And, in the medium term, they’re referring to market-based measures again. So we are trying to move forward, but it needs everyone to work together and understand some of the issues. And the impacts on states have to be recognised.”


Carbon Brief asked Hughes if he is hopeful that a greenhouse gas reduction agreement can be reached at the IMO and whether he thinks, ultimately, shipping will limit its emissions. He said:

“I am. Because I think, as we see with the Paris Agreement, people recognise we are on a pathway now for…decarbonisation of the global economy. And I think that’s recognised by the governments.”

“But if somehow people could satisfy the negative risks – and the negative risks can be properly mitigated – then I think we can move forward…You know we have an expression, throw the baby out with the bathwater: international shipping is an important sector for global trade. I mean that’s fundamentally what we’re there for; we support global trade. And now 60% of global trade is done by developing countries, those countries have to be confident that there’s not going to be an impediment to their sustainable development.”

“Some companies are very keen on improving their carbon footprint…Fuel is over 50% of the operating cost of a ship. So companies who can see a reduction in fuel costs through, for example, energy efficiency measures, can improve their profit.”

Ports of Auckland inquiry outline handed to ministers

NZ First wants more ships going to Northport, Whangarei.


NZ First wants more ships going to Northport, Whangarei.

Government ministers are considering the terms of reference for an official inquiry into moving the Ports of Auckland operations to Whangarei.

NZ First campaigned on the idea and the feasibility study was a key part of its coalition agreement with Labour.

The terms of reference are understood to involve a greater role for rail, ensuring New Zealand has better negotiating leverage with international shipping companies, and NZ First’s commitment to a structure that would stop direct competition between the New Zealand ports and instead encourage more co-operative model in which they all work in the country’s national interest.

Shane Jones has sweeping powers under his regional economic development ministerial portfolio.


Shane Jones has sweeping powers under his regional economic development ministerial portfolio.

No names have yet been discussed to chair the inquiry, so the terms of reference are unlikely to be finalised before Christmas. It is understood that several people have been appointed to be part of the inquiry board, and Ports of Auckland is lobbying to have its interests represented among the board’s members.

Auckland Mayor Phil Goff and Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones held a meeting about the inquiry on Friday morning.

Auckland mayor Phil Goff's council coffers receive around $50m from the Ports of Auckland every year.


Auckland mayor Phil Goff’s council coffers receive around $50m from the Ports of Auckland every year.

It comes six weeks after Goff wrote a letter demanding the inquiry consider national, regional and Auckland interests.

Jones has been given oversight of KiwiRail, which gives him power over decisions about the railway line that would serve the Whangarei port.

The port is worth about $50 million a year to the Auckland Council, and although Goff has said it will have to move from the Auckland CBD eventually, he would like to see it remain within greater Auckland.

The council wants to disestablish Auckland Council Investment (ACIL), the council-controlled organisation that manages its major investments.That would give it more hands-on control of the Ports of Auckland board. ACIL manages $2.3 billion of assets but operates with a skeleton staff.

Jones said: “I accept there is a measure of scepticism around yet another review about our ports. What I want to emphasise is it will not be a Clayton’s review. It has to be fair to the stakeholders of Port of Tauranga, Ports of Auckland and Northport.

“But this is a government that had put in its coalition agreement that there would be serious consideration going to a more enhanced role of Northport in relation to Ports of Auckland.”

Jones said he would ensure KiwiRail was involved in discussions about the port move.

He said Treasury was still undertaking an analysis of the role KiwiRail would play in the transport network, alongside rail corridor owner the NZ Railways Corporation.

The inquiry’s terms of reference were now being considered by ministers. “Once the full Cabinet has endorsed the terms of reference, a public statement will be made.”

Goff would not get into detail about the meeting with Jones.

“We talked about the broad terms of reference for the study into the Upper North Island Ports and Supply Chain Strategy.” Goff said.

Goff said he’d spoken to Jones about it before and, on Friday, they discussed his letter.

“It makes sense that the decision we make about the Ports of Auckland meets the needs of the city, the region and the country,” Goff said, adding that it also had to make economic, environmental and social sense.

“I expressed my expectation that whatever happens in the future with the port needs to have a strong business case behind it and be evidence driven. We need to be looking at how the ports – Northport, Auckland and Tauranga – could best work together and what the infrastructure requirements are,” Goff said.

He said the inquiry was not ideologically driven and that he and Jones were both prepared to consider options. “We’re not going into it with a conclusion and working backwards.”

Goff also noted that any decision about the future of the port was an important financial investment decision for the people of Auckland.

Northport and Ports of Auckland refused to comment. Northport is already working through its own expansion plans.

 – Sunday Star Times