World Maritime Day: How Nigeria can boost its economy through green shipping

By Hauwa Ali

The observance of World Maritime Day is crucial globally since most of the trade around the world is dependent upon the Maritime industries. The United Nations recognized day is celebrated annually on September 29th with the aim of honoring all seafarers and the Maritime Sector, for their important role in managing imports and exports, an important aspect of any economy.

‘New technologies for greener shipping,’ is the theme of this year’s celebration, emphasizing the importance of supporting the maritime sector’s green transition into a sustainable green shipping future. The theme’s main focus is to encourage the world to look forward to a more sustainable and greener shipping through the use of technology.

According to the European Commission, the shipping industry releases 940 million tonnes of CO2 and makes 2.5% of green house gas emissions. Ships currently use heavy fuel oil which is a filtrate from crude oil distillation which has sulphur and is emitted by the ships during transportation. Not only is this harmful to human health and contributes to respiratory and human diseases, but it also causes acid raid, which is extremely harmful to crops, ocean species and acidifies the oceans.

Hence, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) has taken a strong stance against these sulphur emissions and has introduced the mandate IMO Sulphur 2020; under which, all ships must switch to an alternative fuel oil that emits less than 0.50% sulphur into the environment from the 1st of January 2020.

This is the first step to a Green shipping approach; the practice of eco-environmental efficiency adopted in shipping which involves the improvement of procedures and technological innovations for environmental sustainability and trade.

With the dramatic increase in trade globally, Green shipping has become an important issue for a sustainable economy and environmental improvement which has been at the center of international attention due to the increasing pressure to reduce carbon emissions from ships in their movements and port operations.

This is because, when people or goods are transported through ships using minimum resources and energy as possible, it protects the environment from the pollutants generated by the ships. Green shipping therefore, promotes cleaner practices to enforce emission control, efficient port management, and equipment management.

The Nigeria Maritime sector has recorded tremendous improvement capable of generating trillions in revenue to the country if managed properly.

The sector is a very important one in the international trade process and supply chain of the Nigerian economy; playing a very critical role in the nation’s import and export. It generates appreciable revenue and creates a lot of jobs.

Transitioning to green shipping will no doubt, make good economic sense as it means using as few resources as possible to keep costs low. In addition, it will allow reduced carbon emissions and pollution and enhanced energy and resource efficiency. It will also prevent the loss of ocean biodiversity and ecosystem services which will boost the blue economy if Nigeria will take the sector seriously.

Thankfully, during the recently concluded LIMWEEK, Maritime stakeholders in the country stressed the need for more concentration on advanced technologies that will entrench a new era of green shipping activities that guarantee a clean environment.

The stakeholders were unanimous on the fact that advanced technology must be holistically adopted to make the country’s maritime business viable, stressing the need for governments and regulators to sustain the improvement and investment in technology, as technology is crucial to reducing port congestion and competing favourably among maritime nations.

The advanced technologies will make no sense if it does not support the green transition of the maritime sector which will positively influence sustainable economy and positively improve environmental performance and Nigeria cannot be left behind.

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