The Green Award Foundation is confident of having 200 certified tankers on its books sometime during the course of 2003. As of the start of this month a total of 165 tankers worldwide were in possession of a Green Award certificate in recognition of their proven green credentials. This is equivalent to 11% of the global tanker fleet of the size covered by the scheme. It is also a fleet which each year carries a volume of oil equal to that consumed in Europe, i.e. 22% of all seaborne oil.
Some 34 new tankers have been welcomed into the scheme during the course of 2002, although the net increase in the Green Award fleet has been less than this due to the sale and change of ownership of a number of ships. Hopes for a stronger rate of expansion in 2003 are based on, among other things, the scheduled delivery of a large number of newbuilings to owners with fleets already containing several Green Award tankers. The Green Award scheme is a voluntary industry-led initiative that rewards tanker owners for making an extra commitment to environment-friendly design features and operational procedures. It is also a financially independent, non-profit-making organisation. The most immediate benefits accrue from reductions in fees levied on the ships by the many ports and port and ship service companies that participate in the scheme, these savings being typically in the 5%-7% range.However, some shippers are now specifically asking for tankers that are Green Award holders when they charter a vessel. In addition, a growing awareness on the part of insurers that a Green Award ship means less of a risk for them is reflected in the reductions in premiums secured by some of the owners of such ships.
The programme was open only to crude oil and product tankers above 20,000 dwt until last year when similar-sized dry bulk carriers were welcomed into the scheme. Operators of a number of dry bulk terminals have been particularly supportive of the concept and have pledged financial incentives for certified Green Award bulkers. However, due to the poor state of the dry bulk marker and because Hamburg is, as yet, the only port to support the scheme for such ships, bulker owners have yet to embrace the Green Award.
"The Green Award foundation continues to develop and refine its criteria for applicable ships," points our Hans de Goeij, managing director of the Green Award Bureau which administers the scheme. "We are currently working on an update and expect to implement revised criteria as from July 1, 2003.
"Our scheme continues to make good progress and we now have eight fully qualified inspectors carrying out initial, annual and renewal surveys. Kleipeda is the latest port to give formal support to our efforts. "Because of the healthier financial position the foundation is now in, compared to the past, we will be holding our tariffs in 2003 at the current level," adds Mr de Goeij. Ships that apply for Green Award certification are subject to a rigorous audit by the Bureau Green Award's own surveyors. About 40% of the audit is concerned with the hardware - the stat of the ship itself and its equipment. For the remaining 60% the Green Award's auditors focus on the 'software' - the capabilities of crews and shore staff and the working methods and procedures they employ.
The majority of the features that are on the agenda of the Green Award surveyor are the same items that are of concern to charterers, port state control authorities, insurers and environmental standards auditors. In addition to compliance with basic regulatory requirements potential Green Award ships will be assessed on aspects such as appropriate incinerator capacity, holding tank sizes and the provision of full garbage storage and processing facilities. "Since the Green Award scheme was introduced in 1994, various other initiatives promoting marine environmental care have been introduced," says Mr de Goeij, "These include Qualship 21, the ranking system for Dutch-flag ships, Japanese tax advantages for double hull tankers, the Hamburg incentive and the environmental indexing system in Norway.
While admiring their aims, a drawback with the proliferation of these systems is that there is very little transparency and compatibility between them. Such diversity can lead to confusion and the original aim being compromised."To tackle this problem we are advocating the creation of a Maritime Environmental Global Alliance, ie the MEGA platform," confirms Mr de Goeij. "Such a platform would enable an exchange of information about ongoing developments amongst the key stakeholders in maritime safety on a regular basis. "It is important that all these different incentives do not keep reinventing the wheel and that we all work together towards a common goal. " We are willing to co-operate with other programmes and to offer our expertise to those who may be interested.
"In this respect, we are pleased, for example, that the Japanese government has recognised the Green Award as one of the top three environmental protection programmes. "We will be seeking to develop our links and opportunities for co-operation during an extended visit to Japan next month when, amongst other things, I will speak at the International Symposium on the Promotion of Quality Shipping organised by the Institute for Transport Policy Studies."