28 September 2011

Distinguished guests, ladies and gentleman,
Good morning.

It is my pleasure to be here today at the Green Ship Technology Asia Conference 2011. It is heartening to see all of us gathered here to discuss a very important issue - promoting clean and green shipping.

Importance of Shipping
Shipping is the cornerstone of global trade and the life blood of the world's economy. To understand the importance of shipping in our lives, we only need to look at the diverse range of goods we use every day, which at some point in their production or delivery, would have made use of shipping.

Today, more than 90% of the world's trade are carried by ships. The importance of shipping can also be seen from the significant growth in global seaborne trade. In the year 2000, global seaborne trade was about 5,900 million tonnes and a decade later, it grew by 40 percent to 8,400 million tonnes. In Singapore, one of the world's busiest ports, we saw the growth of container throughput from 17 million TEUs in the year 2000 to 28.4 million TEUs last year - a 67 percent increase.

Shipping is not just the most prevalent form of cargo transportation; it is also the most efficient in terms of carbon dioxide emission per tonne kilometre. However, given the scale of shipping activities, the total environmental impact of shipping is not insignificant. The maritime industry is very mindful of this and there have been many discussions on this at various forums.

The challenges facing the international shipping community in protecting the environment are multi-faceted. These include prevention of ship-source pollution such as oil spills and air pollution, ballast water management, greenhouse gas emissions, environmentally-friendly anti-fouling agents, alternative energy, and so on. Some of these will be touched on over the span of this Conference and I hope that you will have a fruitful discussion and go away with new insights on how to address these challenges.

Importance of Clean and Green Shipping in Singapore
In Singapore, promoting a clean and green environment is of great importance to us. As a major hub port and a coastal state along a very busy waterway, Singapore has substantive interests in protecting the marine environment and in ensuring that shipping is environmentally responsible.

The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore, or MPA, as Singapore's maritime administration and port authority, takes the lead in this area. MPA's efforts span the national, regional and global levels. Let me touch on the global level first, Singapore is a firm supporter of the work of the International Maritime Organization. As a council member of the IMO, Singapore participates actively in IMO's work in all areas, particularly in meeting environmental challenges.

Singapore's support of IMO's work on the environment is evidenced by Singapore being one of the few Asian countries to have acceded to all six Annexes of the MARPOL Convention. Singapore is also party to other IMO Conventions on environmental protection and we take our obligations and duties under these Conventions very seriously.

Recently, we worked closely with other IMO member states on the development of the Energy Efficiency Design Index and the Ship Energy Efficiency Management Plan, both measures intended to improve efficiency and reduce emissions. Singapore welcomes the adoption of the energy efficiency measures at the recent IMO Marine Environment Protection Committee meeting in July. We will continue to work closely with the international maritime community to develop effective and practical solutions to address environmental challenges.

At the regional level, Singapore works with the other littoral states of the Straits of Malacca and Singapore, namely Indonesia and Malaysia, through various mechanisms related to environmental protection. One key initiative is the Co-operative Mechanism on Safety of Navigation and Environmental Protection in the Straits of Malacca and Singapore that was launched in 2007. We are glad that the Co-operative Mechanism has received strong support from many user states and the industry.

Within Singapore, MPA has in place various initiatives relating to the environment and we work in close partnership with the industry, universities, research institutes and other government agencies. We provide support for research and development efforts through our Maritime Innovation and Technology Fund and green technology is one of the key focus areas of the Fund.

For example, we supported researchers from the National University of Singapore's Faculty of Engineering in the successful development of the BlueSeas Ballast Water Management System. BlueSeas is the first ballast water management technology from Singapore to receive basic approval from the IMO. BlueSeas is just one example of research efforts into clean and green shipping in Singapore.

Maritime Singapore Green Initiative
In July this year, MPA implemented the Maritime Singapore Green Initiative to promote clean and green shipping in Singapore. The S$100 million Maritime Singapore Green Initiative was first announced during Singapore Maritime Week in April this year and is a comprehensive initiative comprising three programmes - the "Green Ship Programme", "Green Port Programme" and the "Green Technology Programme".

These are voluntary programmes designed to recognise and provide incentives to companies that adopt clean and green shipping practices over and above the minimum required by IMO Conventions. Please allow me to share a bit more about the three programmes.

The Green Ship Programme is targeted at Singapore-flagged ships that exceed the Energy Efficiency Design Index or EEDI requirements of the IMO. Such ships have energy efficient designs that reduce fuel consumption and carbon dioxide emissions. Under the Green Ship Programme, qualifying ships can enjoy a 50% reduction in Initial Registration Fees payable and a 20% rebate on their Annual Tonnage Tax. Recognition will also be given in the form of certificates and a new "SRS Green Ship of the Year" award starting from the next Singapore International Maritime Awards in 2013.

The Green Port Programme aims to encourage ocean-going ships calling at the Port of Singapore to reduce the emission of pollutants like sulphur oxides and nitrogen oxides. Ships that use type-approved abatement or scrubber technology or burn clean fuels with sulphur content lower than MARPOL requirements within our port limits can enjoy a 15% reduction on port dues payable.

The Green Technology Programme encourages local maritime companies to develop and adopt green technologies by providing co-funding for up to half of the qualifying costs. MPA has set aside S$25 million from the Maritime Innovation and Technology Fund for this programme. If response is good, MPA will set aside another S$25 million for it.

Although the Maritime Singapore Green Initiative was implemented only in July, we are very encouraged by the good response and participation from the industry we have received so far.

The commitment and support from the industry towards clean and green shipping was also evident from the Maritime Singapore Green Pledge signing ceremony held in conjunction with the announcement of the Maritime Singapore Green Initiative in April. During the ceremony, 12 organisations from a diverse spectrum of the maritime industry including shipping lines, port operators, shipyards and oil majors signed a pledge to support clean and green shipping. We look forward to more companies coming forward and joining them in signing the green pledge.

Ladies and Gentlemen, protecting the environment and promoting clean and green shipping is something that we must all play a part in and work together on. MPA is committed to, and will continue to work in partnership with our local, regional and global partners on this.

On this note, I wish you a fruitful and meaningful discussion over the next two days. Thank you.