Ships berthing at Hong Kong, one of Asia's pioneers of green shipping, will likely need to use low sulphur fuel from July 1, as lawmakers push through the Air Pollution Control (Ocean Going Vessels) (Fuel at Berth) Regulation.
The compliant fuels required by the regulation are low sulphur marine fuel with a sulphur content not exceeding 0.5 percent, or liquefied natural gas and any other fuels approved by the director of environmental protection.
"The regulation prohibits [ocean going vessels] from using any fuel other than compliant fuel while at berth in Hong Kong, except during the first hour after arrival and the last hour before departure. The shipmasters and shipowners are required to record the date and time of fuel switching and keep the relevant records for three years. If an [ocean going vessel] uses technology that can achieve the same or less emission of sulphur dioxide when compared with using low sulphur marine fuel, the [vessel] may be exempted from switching to compliant fuel," said a spokesman for the environmental protection department.
Those that break the new law will face severe fines and possible imprisonment for six months.
The Hong Kong government said in a release that the new regulation can help reduce the total emissions of SO2 and respirable suspended particulates by 12 percent and 6 percent respectively.
Hong Kong has been mooting an emissions control area (ECA) for the last five years. It has held discussions with neighbouring ports, Shenzhen and Guangzhou to try and form a Pearl River delta ECA, something that is still under negotiation.