UK Sets Ambitious Targets To Cut Shipping Emissions

in International Shipping News,Shipping: Emission Possible 12/07/2019

All new ships for UK waters ordered from 2025 should be designed with zero-emission capable technologies, in ambitious plans set out by Maritime Minister Nusrat Ghani to cut pollution from the country’s maritime sector.

The commitment is set out in the Clean Maritime Plan published today. The government is also looking at ways to incentivise the transition to zero-emission shipping and will consult on this next year.

The plan also includes a £1 million competition to find innovative ways to reduce maritime emissions and is published alongside a call for evidence to reduce emissions on UK waterways and domestic vessels.

The Clean Maritime Plan is part of the Government’s Clean Air Strategy, which aims to cut down air pollution across all sectors to protect public health and the environment. It will also help deliver the United Kingdom’s commitment to be net zero on greenhouse gases by 2050.

Maritime Minister Nusrat Ghani

Maritime Minister Nusrat Ghani said:

“Our maritime sector is vital to the success of the UK’s economy, but it must do everything it can to reduce emissions, improve air quality and tackle climate change.

“The Clean Maritime Plan sets an ambitious vision for the sector and opens up exciting opportunities for innovation. It will help make the UK a global hub for new green technologies in the maritime sector.”

The maritime sector has already taken significant strides to reduce emissions – hybrid ferries are already being used in UK waters, including in the Scottish islands and on cross-Solent journeys to the Isle of Wight. The Port of London Authority – where the Maritime Minister launched the Plan today – also uses hybrid vessels.

Sarah Kenny, Chief Executive of BMT Group and representing the Mari-UK consortium, said:

“The Clean Maritime Plan is an important step towards achieving a zero-emission future for the UK. Getting to net zero will not be easy, but it will present significant opportunities as well as the obvious challenges for all parts of our £40bn maritime sector. Maritime is already the greenest way of moving freight, but we can and must do more to reduce emissions.

“The good news is that the UK is well-placed to not only decarbonise our own economy, but also to share our expertise and capability with the rest of the world as they, too, embark on this most global of missions.

“For the first time, companies and universities from across the country have come together to collaborate through MarRI-UK, accelerating the UK’s maritime technological capabilities, particularly on decarbonisation.

“The key ingredient to realising our clean maritime ambitions is collaboration. Between companies, academia and with government. Today’s plan and government’s broader Maritime 2050 strategy, crafted with Maritime UK, provides a framework to do just that.”

Guidance has also today been issued to ports to assist them in developing air quality strategies. This will both address their own operations and support improving air quality across the country.

Tim Morris, chief executive of the UK Major Ports Group and member of the Clean Maritime Council, said:

“The Clean Maritime Plan is a really valuable piece of work, setting out an ambitious path forward for the transformation of the maritime sector in the UK. It doesn’t shy away from the scale or complexity of the challenge of such a transformation. But it’s a transformation that the ports industry, along with the rest of the maritime sector and working in partnership with Government and other stakeholders, is determined to take on.”

A further consultation to increase the uptake of low carbon fuels will also take place next year.

The Clean Maritime Plan is part of the government’s Maritime 2050, a long-term strategy published in January 2019 to keep the UK as a world leader in the maritime sector for decades to come.
Source: UK Department of Transport

Singapore retains top spot as international shipping centre

in International Shipping News 12/07/2019

Based on objective factors including port throughput and facilities, depth and breadth of professional maritime support services, as well as general business environment, the report is a collaboration between the Chinese state news agency, Xinhua, and international freight benchmark provider, the Baltic Exchange.

Acquired by the Singapore Exchange (SGX) in 2016, the Baltic brings together complementary strengths of Singapore and London, two of the world’s most important maritime centres.

In the six years since this report has been published, there has been a general rise in the performance of Asian and Middle Eastern locations. The first report in 2014 included three European locations in the top five; in 2019 only London remains. The top five international shipping centres are Singapore, Hong Kong, London, Shanghai and Dubai.

Lu Su Ling, Head of Baltic Exchange Asia, says; “Singapore commands a strategic position as a maritime hub in the regional and global arena. The maritime industry is, and will remain, a big contributor to Singapore’s economy and it is therefore important that we continue to innovate and invest in this sector to achieve long-term success.”

“We are honoured to top the 2019 Xinhua-Baltic International Shipping Centre Development Index for six years running. It is a vote of confidence to the quality of services offered by the Port of Singapore, as well as the conducive business environment that facilitates an array of maritime activities in Singapore. This would not have been possible without the strong support from the maritime establishments, industry partners and unions. We look forward to an even closer working relationship to bring the Singapore maritime industry to even greater heights,” said Dr Lam Pin Min, Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Transport and Ministry of Health.

Xu Yu Chang, President of The China Economic Information Service, a wholly-owned company of the Xinhua News Agency, says; “Shipping is an essential method of international trade transportation and has become a significant pillar in the evolution of globalisation. Over the years, the joint index by Xinhua and the Baltic Exchange has become a globally recognisable evaluation tool for shipping centres around the world. In the context of continued globalisation, I believe our index will play an even greater role in optimising the allocation of global shipping resources and promoting the scientific development of international shipping centres in the future.”

Based on the evaluation scores, Singapore shows strength in ship management and shipbroking services, while Hong Kong is benefiting from China’s Belt and Road Initiative and economicopportunities in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau Greater Bay Area. London’s first-class services in shipbroking, legal and shipping finance were highlighted. As important cities in emerging economies, Shanghai and Dubai are catching up with London in their level of shipping development, and were ranked fourth and fifth respectively.

Table: Top 10 port cities of Xinhua-Baltic International Shipping Centre Development Index

Ranking201920182017201620152014
1SingaporeSingaporeSingaporeSingaporeSingaporeSingapore
2Hong KongHong KongLondonLondonLondonLondon
3LondonLondonHong KongHong KongHong KongHong Kong
4ShanghaiShanghaiHamburgHamburgRotterdamRotterdam
5DubaiDubaiShanghaiRotterdamHamburgHamburg
6RotterdamRotterdamDubaiShanghaiShanghaiDubai
7HamburgHamburgNew York – New JerseyNew York – New JerseyDubaiShanghai
8New York – New JerseyNew York – New JerseyRotterdamDubaiNew York – New JerseyTokyo
9HoustonTokyoTokyoTokyoBusanNew York – New Jersey
10AthensBusanAthensAthensAthensBusan

2019 Xinhua-Baltic International Shipping Centre Development Index report [PDF]

Source: The Baltic Exchange

NYK Introduces Japan’s 1st Additive for IMO 2020-Compliant Fuel Oil


Japanese shipping company Nippon Yusen Kaisha (NYK) and shipping and marine supplier Nippon Yuka Kogyo, a NYK Group company, have jointly developed a new fuel oil additive for low-sulfur compliant fuel-oil that meets SOx emission requirements.

Yunic 800VLS — patent pending — is Japan’s first additive for very low sulfur fuel oil (VLSFO), NYK said.

The additive is said to improve safety by helping to avoid troubles that may be caused by certain contents of VLSFO, according to the company.

A global sulfur cap will enter into force on January 1, 2020, and one way ships can meet the requirement is by using VLSFO – a fuel oil with a sulfur content below 0.5%. However, a wide variety of VLSFO is expected to be supplied because the manufacturing process differs from conventional heavy fuel oil, which has a sulfur content of up to 3.5%.

NYK and Nippon Yuka Kogyo thus began examining VLSFO at an early stage and have developed an additive that will lessen the likelihood of the VLSFO causing engine problems.

Specifically, Yunic 800VLS disperses asphaltene and paraffin (wax) specific within VLSFOs to suppress sludge formation.

The effect of Yunic 800VLS has been certified by ClassNK.

“The NYK Group seeks to be compliant with the 2020 SOx cap and enrich safe operations by introducing this new fuel-oil additive for VLSFO,” NYK said in a statement.

NYK in biofuel research and testing
Separately, NYK Line and Japan Engine Corporation (J-ENG) revealed they would start the research and development of biofuel using a test engine as one of the solutions for decarbonization.

Considered to be a carbon-neutral fuel, biofuel is a fuel derived from organic substance or biomass.

Biofuel has been attracting attention as an alternative fuel as one of the promising renewable energy toward decarbonization and one of the solutions against the energy crisis due to the depletion of natural resources such as fossil fuel.

In addition, since biofuel emits almost no sulfur oxides (SOx) in combustion, its use as a marine fuel is expected to be expanded.

In collaboration with NYK Line, J-ENG plans to carry out the engine test using the biofuel from GoodFuels, a biofuel supplier based in the Netherlands.

Maersk: Massive Innovative Solutions Must Happen in Next 5-10 Years

At the end of last year, the world’s largest shipping company Maersk revealed plans on becoming a carbon neutral company by 2050.

The efforts are in line with the shipping industry’s push to halve its carbon footprint by 2050 compared to 2008.

“We do not by net-zero refer to off-setting CO2 emissions from fossil fuels. By committing to this target, we believe we will drive the transformation of the shipping industry towards use of carbon-neutral fuels,” the company said in its sustainability report for 2018.

Maersk believes that efficiency can only keep shipping emissions stable, not reduce or eliminate them.

“Nevertheless, until decarbonisation is achieved, decoupling business growth from emissions is a necessity, and we have set an efficiency target of 60% relative reduction in CO2 by 2030 from a 2008 baseline. With these targets, we are breaking the mould for climate targets and ambitions in the shipping industry.”

Maersk had set a target of 60% relative reductions by 2020, using a 2007 baseline. By the end of 2018, the company reached 47% reduction since 2007.

These have been achieved through massive investments in optimizing fleet efficiency, with technical retrofittings including capacity boost, new bulbous bows, propellers and engine modifications, as well as by improving planning and optimizing of networks.

However, as explained, this is not enough to reach 60% in two years’ time.

Hence, the company pointed out that massive innovative solutions and fuel transformation must take place in the next 5-10 years.

“Over the last four years alone, we have invested USD 1 billion and engaged 50+ engineers each year in developing and deploying energy efficiency solutions. We expect this investment level to be sustained in pursuit of our new targets. Efficiency gains do not, however, solve the climate change problem. That can only be achieved through decarbonization,” the company said.


Transformation of the 100-Year Old Business Model

Transforming the shipping industry which has run on relatively cheap, heavy fuel for 100 years is not an easy task. In addition to new ship designs and engine types, there is a need for new types of fuel as well as building entire new supply chains for these new solutions, Maersk insists.

“All of this breakthrough innovation will have to take place in the 2020s and is more than any single company can do,” the company adds.

As a result, the shipping major urges all parties involved to collaborate on incentives and development of innovative solutions to usher in  the age of zero-carbon vessels.

“We want to begin a dialogue with cargo owners, regulators, researchers, investors and technology developers, and together set the foundation for a sustainable industry,” Maersk said, pointing out that research and development will be the cornerstone in decarbonizing the shipping industry.

The Pursuit of Solutions Must Begin Now

Zero-emission, commercially-viable vessels must be on the water by 2030, Maersk believes, especially due to the 20-25-year lifetime of a vessel.

“This should be followed by an initial slow ramping up, allowing maturing of technology and supply chain in order to be able to turn around our entire fleet for net-zero carbon emissions in 2050. This leaves us and the industry only eleven years to find the right solutions for a positive business case for decarbonization.

“For the next few years, it is very important not to rule out any solutions. There are several promising technologies at various stages of development. All solutions will come with benefits and challenges to be overcome and only by actively partnering, collaborating and undertaking research and development will we know which ones will win out. There are several technologies and fuels being developed these years within the areas such as advanced biofuels and hydrogen-based fuels.”

Maersk said that it has already engaged in research and test programs in some of these technologies, for example sustainable biofuels.

“Over the coming years, we will expand the range of solutions we are investigating. This will prepare us for selecting a few candidates we will pursue for the first carbon-neutral vessels.

” Our 2030 efficiency target is strong enough to ensure that we continue to decouple CO2 emission levels from growth in trade and volumes shipped. With this target, we will not exacerbate our contribution to climate change while we grow our business, serve global trade and support job creation.”

Container shipping companies cleared in U.S. Investigation

in International Shipping News 27/02/2019

The world’s two biggest container shipping companies on Tuesday said they have been cleared in an investigation of the sector by the U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ).

Denmark’s Maersk and Switzerland’s Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) were among several companies ordered to testify in an antitrust investigation that began in 2017 over practices by an industry that is the backbone of world trade.

Other lines included Germany’s Hapag Lloyd.

Container companies, which transport everything from TVs to bananas, have tried reduce costs through alliances to pool sailing schedules and port calls. Critics say this can lead to reduced services and increased prices for customers.

Privately-owned MSC, which is the world’s No.2 line, said it had been informed by the DoJ that the department had closed its investigation into MSC and the global container shipping industry without bringing charges or imposing penalties.

“This is an important decision where the global container shipping industry has, once again, been fully investigated and exonerated,” the company said in its statement on Tuesday.

A.P. Moller Maersk confirmed that the DoJ had closed its investigation and had released Maersk from any obligations under the Grand Jury subpoenas issued in March 2017.

Camilla Jain Holtse, A.P. Moller Maersk’s head of competition law and policy, said the company had provided full cooperation throughout the investigation.

A spokesman for Hapag Lloyd declined to comment.

The investigation could have resulted in large fines at a time when the container sector is struggling with slowing global economic growth.

Last week Maersk warned that trade headwinds would slow container demand growth this year, sending its shares down 10 percent. The stock was down 2.3 percent at 1343 GMT on Tuesday and Hapag Lloyd was down 2.8 percent.

The U.S. investigation followed separate cases in other jurisdictions in recent years.

In 2016 European Union antitrust regulators accepted an offer from Maersk and 13 competitors to change their pricing practices to stave off possible fines.

Gordon Campbell on why shipping is New Zealand’s big new trade problem

So Jacinda Ardern and Theresa May have signed a piece of paper promising peace in our time when it comes to our trade with Britain.

Hard Brexit deal or no Brexit deal at all, there will be something called ‘regulatory continuity’ that will ensure the rules governing our trade with Britain won’t change overnight. Reportedly, Ardern thinks this should re-assure our meat industry, even though (small detail) this piece of paper is not a guarantee of trade access. So if and when Britain crashes out of the EU causing goods to pile up on both sides of the Channel and our lamb exports can’t get through to Britain for the Easter trade etc etc at least we’ll be able to sleep easy in our beds knowing that the red meat quota hasn’t changed for now. Small comfort, one would think.

Right now, a statement from Theresa May on Brexit has as much credibility as a statement by Donald Trump about North Korea’s plans for scrapping its nukes. Despite her recent crushing defeat in the Commons, May is continuing to playing chicken with Britain’s future, for personal and party advantage. No change there. She is still gambling she can terrify enough of her MPs (and the public) about the chaos of a ‘no deal’ such that Parliament will eventually ratify her wretched deal as the least worst option available. In these circumstances, New Zealand is useful only insofar as we can contribute to the illusion that Number 10 is open for something that looks like business as usual. It isn’t, of course. On both sides of the Atlantic, the practices of normal government are in virtual shutdown.

The Marpol Treaty “Tax”

Brexit is not the only concern. To date, the Ardern government’s biggest crisis came in the spring of 2018 when global fuel prices rose, and the public chose to blame the price hikes on domestic fuel tax increases. At the pump, people largely ignored the major global spike in the price of oil and raged instead about the relatively minor tax add-ons imposed by central and regional government. Panicked, the government blamed the oil companies. Luckily for all concerned, the global oil price suddenly slumped, and the political problems have largely subsided. Holiday motoring, which could have been a nagging reminder all summer of the intersection between fuel taxes and petrol prices, has caused no ripples on the political pond.

In 2019 though, a new and different kind of fuel price Godzilla is coming over the horizon, and it is likely to boost the prices of everything going in and out of the country, from Amazon packages to milk powder. It is called the Marpol Treaty, and like many things that change the world for better and worse, it started out with the best of intentions. Basically, the Marpol Treaty is a set of UN-mandated regulations (devised by the International Maritime Organisation) that among other things, is aimed at cracking down on the pollution emitted by ships, and the crucial bits are in Annex VI. As Bloomberg News recently reported, the global shipping fleets currently consume about 3.8 million barrels a day of fuel oil — in the main, this is heavy, lower-value stuff from a refining process that contains about 1 to 3.5 percent sulphur. That content level is about to change:

From January 2020, new rules from the International Maritime Organization will limit sulphur-dioxide emissions from ships. All else equal, a ship would need to burn fuel with only 0.5 percent sulphur content or less to comply.

Oh sure, there are a few ways of mitigating the impact. “Scrubbers” can be installed on board to wash the bad sulphury content into the sea, but they’re expensive to install and operate, and obviously they add to marine pollution. Very few ships will have them in place by 2020. New ships can be built to run on liquified natural gas, but obviously, that’s no answer for the existing fleets. Also, ships can be induced to steam at slower speeds, which would cut down on their emissions. New Zealand, which is famously far from its markets, would probably not welcome any move guaranteed to bring its exports/imports to market at a slower pace.

In fact, distance is one reason why the Marpol Treaty regulations may impact more severely on New Zealand than on most other nations. The advent of the Internet and digital commerce may have shrunk distance in many respects, but lets not kid ourselves. As the New Zealand official briefing papers on Marpol point out:

New Zealand relies on international shipping to move some 98 percent (by weight) of its imports and exports.

And moreover:

Over 96 percent of international maritime trade, including almost all ships involved in New Zealand’s international trade, is carried on ships registered to States that have acceded to Annex VI [which contains the sulphur emission rules]

Oh, and there’s yet another problem. The Marsden Point refinery does not seem able to cope with the changes that are coming down the pike:

The cost of retooling Marsden Point to convert all high-sulphur residues to MARPOL-compliant product will be high and prohibitively expensive. The refinery is currently exploring if it is possible to produce smaller volumes of 0.5% sulphur fuel, and what may be required to achieve this. This has not yet been fully scoped nor costed. Currently, high sulphur by-products from refining have commercial value to Marsden Point. Once the 0.5 % sulphur requirement comes into force, this situation may change, affecting the refinery’s business model in this regard. In the event that there is a major shift to low SOx fuels, there is an open question as to how the high sulphur residues will be disposed of or used.

Do I hear the cliché “perfect storm”? Here’s another contributing factor to that storm. As the folks at Bloomberg point out, the transition to a low-sulphur diesel or gas oil fuel is also likely to push the price of the good low-sulphur diesel sharply upwards. At which point of course, President Trump could decide to intervene, if only to stop any sharp increase in fuel costs for MAGA-cap wearing truckers from undermining his chances for re-election in 2020:

While fuel-oil prices would tank, the price of low-sulphur diesel would, all else equal, jump. That’s a problem for truckers — like the ones ferrying Amazon’s goodies around — for whom fuel has fluctuated between roughly 20 to 40 percent of the cost-per-mile over the past decade. This explains why President Trump…might want to slow the International Maritime Organisation’s roll in 2020. However, since the U.S. effectively agreed to the rules a decade ago via an act of Congress, delaying or thwarting them isn’t a simple process. Despite efforts by the Trump administration to turn it, a supertanker is bearing down on drivers, oil majors, and even Amazon.com Inc.

Footnote: According to the government briefing document linked to above, New Zealand needs to get its position together on the Marpol Treaty Annex VI process quite soon. A Cabinet decision to accede to the process is expected in the first half of 2019. All going well, a parliamentary select committee would then consider the National Interest Analysis (NIA) and treaty text, and report back to Parliament by mid-2019. Government agencies would complete work on the regulatory amendments required to put the Treaty provisions into domestic law by the third quarter of 2020, and New Zealand would hope to deposit its instrument of accession with the IMO by late 2020, with the aim of putting our compliance into effect by the beginning of 2021. Right now, public submissions are being invited, and the closing date is 11 February 2019. Werewolf will continue to report on this issue.

Annabel Young: Get ready for fuel price rises in 2019

Prices are expected to climb rapidly as demand increases, especially in New Zealand. Photo / File

NZ Herald By: Annabel Young

COMMENT:

Prices at the petrol pump were a regular item in the 2018 news but spare a thought for businesses that buy fuel by the tonne (1000 litres). In shipping circles, the expectation is that the price of oil-based fuel products will rise steeply in 2019 and that they will keep going up. International price rises will be reflected in prices in the domestic market, at the suburban fuel pump.

Here is why this is happening and how it will affect you.

By January 2020, most ships in the world will be subject to restrictions on sulphur emissions. This is the effect of a treaty known as Marpol Annex VI which imposes a maximum level for sulphur content of emissions at 0.5 per cent. Currently the maximum limit is 3.5 per cent sulphur content although it should be noted that in practice, many ships operate below that level.

New Zealand has not ratified Marpol Annex VI yet but it is assumed by the sector that this will be done by at least 2023. In the meantime, the majority of ships operating around New Zealand are flagged to countries that have ratified the Annex and they are therefore bound by it.

Sulphur emissions from fuel are a result of the fuel used and there are a number of ways to address this, but there is no easy option. The fuel oil used by most ships originates from crude oil as the fuel is the residual left after the diesel or other distillates have been extracted. The residual becomes bitumen and fuel oil, termed HFO, IFO and LFO. When the residue is no longer used as a shipping fuel, it may continue to be used in shore-based oil-fired consumers, eg power stations.

Designing a new vessel to operate on an alternative fuel to oil is much easier than retrofitting an existing ship. By way of example, a shift to methanol would be a great way to solve the emissions problem but it costs about $2 million extra to build a methanol ship; whereas it costs significantly more to retrofit an existing vessel. So methanol, being emissions free and locally sourced from Taranaki, looks perfect but may be difficult to implement as a replacement.

Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) is another option widely available in Australia, but in New Zealand it is tricky to source. Nuclear power is not currently an option for commercial vessels (it is for warships) but may feature as a civilian propulsion choice in the future.

The practical option for most current ships operating on fuel oil is to shift to a lower sulphur oil-based fuel. The obvious choice is diesel because other low sulphur oil-based fuels are not yet in significant production.

An alternative to switching fuels is to install so-called “scrubbers”, that is equipment that uses sea water to clean emissions. About 1 per cent of the current world fleet uses scrubbers; and it is not expected that scrubber production will be able to scale up in the short or medium term. Of course, the scrubber option is only useful if the current higher-sulphur-content fuel remains available.

So what is the likely impact of most ships in the total worldwide fleet shifting to diesel? Ship operators expect significant increases in fuel costs and also worry about availability. At current prices, diesel is at least 35 per cent more expensive than the fuel currently used by ships. Prices are expected to climb rapidly as demand increases, especially in New Zealand as we already rely on importing at least 30 per cent of current diesel needs and would have to import any increased usage.

To achieve the 2020 deadline, it is expected that the worldwide conversion of ships to a low-sulphur fuel will begin in mid-2019. The effect will be a steep rise in demand for diesel. And increased demand means increased prices. The six month lead-in is because changing the type of fuel used by a ship is not as easy as switching on a lamp. It is almost a case of saying that the engine has to want to change.

Around the world, the change in fuel is expected to throw up a range of engineering issues on every vessel, and in some cases the issues will be unable to be resolved leading to the removal of that vessel from the fleet. Some ship lines have already imposed an additional tariff to cover the cost of the switchover.

As the price rises in the world market, the effect on the price of any oil-based fuel (not just diesel) at the local petrol pump is likely to be substantial and immediate.

The impact of higher costs of ship operations will also play out in the cost of everything that you buy because virtually everything has a component of transport in its price.

Ship operators are even wondering if they will be able to source fuel at all.

• Annabel Young is the executive director of the New Zealand Shipping Federation which represents coastal ship operators.

MSC Zoe: Islands hit as 270 containers fall off ship

Extensive debris has washed up on islands off the Dutch north coast after some 270 containers including chemicals fell off a cargo ship in a storm.

As the extent of pollution became clear on five islands including Terschelling, coastguards searched the North Sea for missing containers.

The cargo fell off the MSC Zoe near the German island of Borkum, but the tide carried many of them to the south-west.

Initial images showed children’s toys and TVs on Dutch beaches.

But officials said three containers carried toxic substances, and Dutch and German coastguards warned local people to steer clear of them.

One of those containers had a cargo of peroxide powder, and a 25kg bag of the chemical was found on the island of Schiermonnikoog on Thursday, along with several containers and their contents.

What happened to the MSC Zoe?

The Panama-registered ship is described as the biggest in Europe, with a potential cargo of 19,000 containers.

Containers in the Wadden Sea
Image captionThe Dutch coastguard searched for containers near the islands on Thursday

As Storm Zeetje buffeted northern Germany with gale force winds late on Tuesday night, 270 containers of Zoe’s cargo fell off the ship as it made its way through the Wadden Sea from the Belgian port of Antwerp.

Waves of up to 10m (33ft) in height were reported on the night and images from the Dutch coastguard showed dozens of containers balanced precariously like dominoes on the deck, about to fall into the sea.

By Wednesday morning, strong tides had already swept some of the containers on to beaches on Terschelling, Vlieland and Ameland and Dutch and German coastguard planes scoured the sea for the others.

Map of Wadden Sea

There were fears that other shipping could be damaged by the cargo. The Geneva-based MSC company which owns the ship has asked a salvage company to use sonar equipment to help retrieve the missing containers.

Overnight into Thursday, the MSC Zoe docked at Bremerhaven. Several containers were spotted in German waters and a further 11 were seen by the Dutch coastguard floating between the islands of Ameland and Schiermonnikoog.

How bad is the pollution?

By Thursday five Dutch islands in the Wadden Sea had seen debris from the MSC Zoe wash up on its beaches.

On Texel, Vlieland, Terschelling, Ameland and Schiermonnikoog volunteers were helping on Thursday to clear up the mess spilt the previous day. Around 100 soldiers were being sent to the islands part of the clean-up operation.

Among the rubbish found on Terschelling’s long, sandy beaches were shoes, bags, cushions, chairs, TVs and plastic cups.

Broken TVs lay on the beach on Terschelling hours after the containers fell into the sea
Image captionBroken TVs lay on the beach on Terschelling hours after the containers fell into the sea

Children found pink toys among the rubbish.

Volunteers had to scoop polystyrene packaging from the dunes.

On Ameland, local officials said 130,000kg of debris had been cleared up along an 8km (five-mile) stretch of beach.

When the MSC Napoli ran aground off the south-west coast of England in 2007, 80 containers washed ashore. Police had to shut a local beach as people scoured the debris for motorbikes and other merchandise.

Police had to use old laws on scavenging that require people to return goods from the stricken ship.

Although some flat screen TVs were found in the debris on Wednesday, most concerns on the Dutch islands focused on the environmental damage to the area.

How Cargo Ships Can Go Green

Shipping is the lifeblood of global commerce — more than 80 percent of world trade goes by water. But the industry is also an environmental menace, producing as much carbon dioxide annually as Germany.

The International Maritime Organization has helpfully called for ships to produce about 85 percent less sulfur by the end of next year, and to halve their total greenhouse-gas emissions by 2050.

The shipping industry is properly responding with various obvious strategies: emissions-scrubber systems, slower operating speeds, and the use of cleaner-burning fuels, including liquefied natural gas. These are essential steps — yet not adequate. To meet the 2050 target, shippers will need to try alternative sources of energy.

To begin they’ll need to invest in developing complimentary sail and solar power. Energy storage is needed, too, to take advantage of these intermittent power sources. Other technologies needing further experimentation include zero-emission hydrogen fuel cells and biofuels, which can be made of everything from leftover cooking oil to algae.

Not all improvements need to be highly technological or hugely expensive. One practical idea is to remove the barnacles that attach themselves to ships’ hulls. The drag this creates can increase a vessel’s fuel consumption by as much as 20 to 40 percent. Several new technologies can do the job: chemicals that repel the mollusks; polymers and Teflon-like coatings that make it harder for them to attach themselves; and underwater drones that scrub them away without needing to put the ship in drydock.

Another easy improvement known as cold ironing stems from the days of coal-powered fleets: When ships are being unloaded at a port, they use electricity supplied from the shore rather than their own power systems. California already has cold-ironing requirements at its commercial ports. Other states and nations should follow its example.

And then there is, literally, the nuclear option. The idea of fitting commercial craft with nuclear reactors isn’t actually new: in the late 1950s, the U.S. government funded the building of the Savannah, which served as both a cargo carrier and passenger liner for a decade; Russia’s nuclear-powered container ship Sevmorput, launched in the 1980s, is still in service.

It’s still possible that the advantages of nuclear — no emissions and tremendous speed — can eventually overcome the additional costs involved with developing the technology and protecting against catastrophic accidents or terrorist theft.

None of these strategies can work alone, and some may turn out not to work at all. But the shipping companies, shipbuilders and nations whose economies depend on them are going to need to get more inventive — 2050 is coming faster than they think.
Source: Bloomberg