The maritime industry in Singapore is constantly thriving. It consists of more than 170,000 workers and accounts for about 7% of the country’s GDP. Over 5,000 maritime-related entities can also be found in the country, operating businesses that range from shipping and port-related activities to offshore and marine engineering services. Indeed, from being a mere physical port, Singapore has grown to become a vigorous International Maritime Centre with one of the highest concentrations of global maritime service providers and international shipping groups.
However, the imperative to transform Singapore’s ports and develop itself as an International Maritime Centre should be accompanied by efforts to address climate change and protect the environment. According to the International Maritime Organization (IMO), the maritime sector is responsible for a substantial amount of greenhouse gas (GHG). Specifically, merchant vessels are accountable for approximately more than 3% of the global GHG emissions. As such, it is necessary for the maritime industry in every country to uphold its social responsibility and adopt effective sustainability measures for the protection of the environment.
Maritime Singapore Green Initiative
In line with its maritime sustainability efforts, the Singapore government developed the “Maritime Singapore Green Initiative,” which aims to minimise the environmental effect of shipping and other related activities and to encourage green shipping in the country. In 2011, the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) vowed to invest around S$100 million over five years in this initiative. In 2019, it was further extended until December 2024 and improved to promote maritime decarbonisation. It is an extensive initiative consisting of four programs:
- Green Port Programme
- Green Ship Programme
- Green Energy and Technology Programme
- Green Awareness Programme
These programs are voluntary and are designed to acknowledge companies that take on clean and green maritime practices beyond the minimum prescribed by International Maritime Organization (IMO) Conventions by primarily providing them with incentives. Overall, the Maritime Singapore Green Initiative emphasises Singapore’s commitment to clean and green shipping. In carrying out its objectives, MPA has been working closely with industry partners, organisations, and institutes of higher learning to facilitate efforts on developing and deploying maritime decarbonisation solutions in the country.
Updates on the Green Port Programme
The Green Port Programme (GPP) is one of the voluntary programs under the Maritime Singapore Green Initiative to promote environmental sustainability among sea-going vessels that call at the Port of Singapore as well as MPA-licensed harbour craft by providing a reduction in port dues of up to 30%. This port dues reduction is applicable to green ships or those vessels that use either zero or low carbon fuel in the Port of Singapore, or vessels whose Energy Efficiency Design Index (EEDI) reduction goes beyond the requirement of IMO under the Phase 3 EEDI by at least 10%.
As a requirement for participating in the GPP, charterers or shipowners should make sure that their vessels are pre-registered under the programme before calling at the Port of Singapore. The application of the port dues reduction to vessels that meet the criteria runs from May 1, 2022, until December 31, 2024. As of 2019, the GPP has already attained significant success, with over 4,700 vessel calls having shifted to marine fuel with a sulphur content that does not exceed 1%. Moreover, between January 2020 and December 2021, the improved MSGI programme has benefitted more than 700 vessel calls.
Updates on the Green Ship Programme
Another key component of the Maritime Singapore Green Initiative is the Green Ship Programme (GSP). The primary principle of the GSP is to recognise and reward shipowners who voluntarily take on solutions that enable green ships to go beyond the environmental regulatory standards prescribed by the IMO. This programme began on July 1, 2011, and based on its recent revision in 2019, it is currently in effect from January 1, 2020, until December 31, 2024.
Since May 1, 2022, MPA has been providing a maximum of 100% reduction to initial registration fees and 100% rebates to yearly tonnage taxes for Singapore-flagged green cargo ships that either exceed the requirements under the MARPOL Annex VI Phase 3 EEDI of IMO by at least 10% or adopt engines with the capability to use low-carbon fuels with CF or zero-carbon fuels. As of 2020, over 600 Singapore-flagged vessels have already qualified for the GSP.
Updates on the Green Energy and Technology Programme
The Green Energy and Technology Programme (GETP) is another critical programme under the Maritime Singapore Green Initiative. Its principal objective is to encourage maritime companies based in Singapore to develop and carry out pilot trials for green technologies that can assist vessels in meeting the targets set by the “Maritime Singapore Decarbonisation Blueprint: Working Towards 2050.” This blueprint essentially outlines concrete and extensive long-term strategies for building a sustainable Maritime Singapore.
Formulated and developed by the MPA in consultation with several industry partners, the blueprint aims to contribute to the commitments of Singapore under the Paris Agreement, the Initial IMO Strategy on reducing GHG emissions from ships, and the United Nations’ 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda. This is in line with Singapore’s value undertaking as an International Maritime Centre and a leading global hub port. To date, the blueprint has already charted seven focus areas, which the MPA will concentrate on to support maritime decarbonisation and green shipping:
- Port terminals
- Domestic harbour craft
- Singapore Registry of Ships (SRS)
- Future marine infrastructure, fuels, and bunkering standards
- Initiatives at IMO and other international avenues
- Carbon accounting and awareness and green financing
- Research and development and talent
In terms of eligibility, all sea-going ships that are registered under the SRS, as well as harbour crafts that are licensed to operate within the Port of Singapore, are qualified to apply for the GETP. At present, the annual carbon dioxide emission from enhanced green cargo ships has already been decreased by more than 177,000 tonnes. According to the MPA, it will continuously and progressively update the blueprint in line with the climate change commitments of the Singapore government.
Updates on the Green Awareness Programme
The Green Awareness Programme (GAP) is an addition to the Maritime Singapore Green Initiative. It was introduced in July 2016 when the initiative was first extended and enhanced by the MPA. Essentially, GAP encourages awareness of sustainability reporting among individuals and entities, especially maritime companies. The MPA understands that achieving a more sustainable future is not possible without the active participation of key stakeholders across the maritime industry.
As such, the MPA has been actively partnering with different organisations and companies across the sector to enhance the pace of change. Recently, the MINT fund of MPA supported Billion Miles, local SMEs, and their test bedding partners in coming up with a new biofuel methanol direct injection system. This novel design enables a single injection for both kinds of fuels, thereby minimising the intricacies of engine design and expected consequent maintenance costs.
Many things are currently being done in order for the MPA to achieve its sustainability goals under the Maritime Singapore Green Initiative. As the world becomes increasingly aware of the adverse impacts of shipping and other related activities on the environment, it has become high time for the maritime industry to amp up its sustainability efforts by introducing and strengthening effective environmental measures and programmes, such as the GPP, GSP, GETP, and GAP. Through these kinds of programmes, the dream of having a sustainable future in the maritime industry can surely be realised.
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