Back in September, the provincial New Democrats took a stand against blacktop expansion in the Lower Mainland. And now the party's standing committee on the environment is proposing measures that would place restrictions on the province's marine highways. A resolution submitted for debate at the New Democrat's upcoming convention notes, "ocean-going ships are the sole remaining point source of pollution in BC that is not regulated" - this, despite the fact they "produce more than a million tons of pollutants in a year, and in 2007 ship traffic is the second-largest source of greenhouse gases and other toxic emissions." As a result, the committee is calling on New Democrats to promote the "mandatory procurement of low sulphur fuels for all marine shipping sectors" and require ocean-going ships visiting provincial ports to "reduce emissions within BC waters...or receive a significant port levy."
So what does the industry think about that proposal? In an interview with Public Eye, British Columbia Chamber of Shipping president Rick Bryant said his association has actually been lobbying for similar measures to be adopted by the International Maritime Organization - the United Nations agency that regulates shipping.
But he cautions against the provincial government introducing legislation that would put it out of step with existing and less environmentally-friendly worldwide regulations. "We have to keep in mind that ships don't have to come here," he explained. "They can go to other parts of the world. They can abide by the international conventions and continue to operate."
Instead, Mr. Bryant suggest the government "create incentives so that shipping will try and take the lead and introduce cleaner fuels and shore power and things like that." The following is a complete copy of the aforementioned resolution.
GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSIONS AND POLLUTION FROM OCEAN-GOING SHIPS AND FERRIES
WHEREAS ocean-going ships are the sole remaining point source of pollution in BC that is not regulated, and CO2 emissions from shipping are double those of aviation and increasing at an alarming rate which will have a serious impact on global warming; and
WHEREAS marine vessels in BC produced more than a million tons of pollutants in a year, and in 2007 ship traffic is the second-largest source of greenhouse gases and other toxic emissions; and
WHEREAS these emissions cause and contribute to severe onshore human health and environmental impacts;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Party will do all in its power to promote and advocate:
1. Mandatory procurement of low sulphur fuels for all marine shipping sectors and the elimination of provincial marine bunker oil and diesel fuel subsidies (2000 and 2003 budgets respectively) to drastically reduce cross-sectoral shipping contributions to global climate change;
2. Ocean-going ships visiting BC ports must reduce emissions within BC waters from their auxiliary engines by using marine fuel with a 0.5% sulphur limit by 2008 and a 0.1 % sulphur limit by 2010 and main engines by 2013, or receive a significant port levy.
3. BC co-fund port electrical hook-up of all vessels in excess of 400 tonnes (including BC Ferries), idling for longer than one hour;
4. Zero discharge zoning in all ecologically sensitive inland seas;