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HK firm leads on fuel change

South China Morning Post — 6 Dec. 2010

Edward Rossiter (“Whiff of change in fuel switch?”, December 2) is right to praise those shipping companies that have decided to burn low-sulphur fuel at berth in Hong Kong. However, I believe he is wrong in thinking that a European company led the change. The then Hong Kong-based China Navigation Company, which is owned by John Swire and Sons and had been operating out of Hong Kong since Noah was a boy, switched to low-sulphur fuel not only at berth in Hong Kong but throughout the Pearl River Delta region, from January 26, 2008. At the time, they invited other shipping lines to follow their example, and we should all be delighted that this is now happening.

I do not seek to belittle Maersk, whose environmental initiatives are impressive in scope and global in scale, but it was a local company which showed the way in Hong Kong. It is also encouraging to note that the majority of companies that have signed the charter are based in East Asia. Let’s hope the rest of the global shipping community will soon catch up.

Most tugs, ferries and other forms of local craft already burn low-sulphur marine gas oil. It is the heavy bunker fuel on ocean-going vessels that is the major pollutant, and it is this that is now being significantly reduced, thanks to a handful of major shipping lines.

Finally, I have been blaming the acrid smell which lurks above Stonecutters Bridge on the new sewage treatment plant located near the PLA Navy base and Government Dockyard.

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