|Some of you may remember the command in The Wizard of Oz about ignoring the “man behind the curtain”. By pulling back the curtain, Dorothy revealed that the “Wizard” wasn’t magical at all—in fact he was a charlatan.
I feel the same way about the call for slow-steaming as a means to reduce emissions. Yes, on a per ship basis, it reduces emissions but in terms of fulfilling market requirements it results in adding more ships to the rotation—and thus increasing net environmental impacts rather than reducing them! For ship operators that may feel like a temporary win—excess capacity is absorbed resulting in greater fleet utilization. Given the level of adoption, it may even result in rate increases due to reduced supply. And then we can order more ships…and so it goes!
The slow steaming proposal is a commercial salve, not an environmental solution. It kicks the can down the road, rather than requiring industry to come up with real solutions for emission challenges. Further, it exposes shipping to the real possibility of IMO losing the mandate to regulate shipping. External forces, such as the European Union and others, will recognize our lack of responsibility. Our tenuous hold on the public having respect for an industry which delivers more than 90% of global trade will evaporate as the environmental groups raise the clarion call that we aren’t delivering on our promises to do our part to reduce climate change (note the piece on children protesting outside of IMO this week urging emission reductions. They are starting young…). A short-term gain would have long term repercussions.
We need to invest in REAL solutions, which requires time, money and effort. We need to look for innovative approaches to our real problem.
Who knows? Maybe we will find it in October at SHIPPINGInsight!