• Hans van Mameren

Awareness alone does not result in changes. Rules and enforcement do.

Two conferences, one for high end policy makers in the Maritime Industry, the other aimed at consumers on a scuba dive show. Both in one week and both leading to the same observation.

Working in the Maritime world for decades and having proposed many innovations, taught me one sad thing. Any proposal for something really good, innovative, costs saving, generating profit or whatever, is always met with the one and only question: Is it required by the Rules? Either Class or IMO? If not, we don’t do it! A lot of the new technology that is developed is only implemented when Rules are forcing it.

Scuba divers are Nature Lovers who are thrilled to see the beautiful underwater world. They do not like plastic. They are aware of all the pollution. But how many of us are scuba divers. The divers talk about creating awareness, educating people. But how long will it take for the majority to refuse the plastic bags, straws and cups? Too long for the liking of all dolphins, turtles and whales.

A sixteen year old girl and fellow students around the world can go on strike and have all the sympathy. But will it work? Unfortunately not.

When governments are not prepared to step in, set the rules and enforce these rules it will take a too long time before the last denier is phased out. And we do not have that time.

Action is needed now and only governments and international supra national bodies can realize the necessary changes in the rules. Sadly they are not at the alert. Paralysed by fear for decisions and vested interests, they compromise with reality. But reality cannot be compromised, it has to be dealt with.

In spite of all the protests of owners, in spite of all the costs, from 2020 onward ships must run on cleaner fuel. Not all, but a growing number of governments is ready to enforce this new rule.

When the government of Rwanda can issue a “one time use plastic” ban and sees to the enforcement then, having some courage, every government can do so.

When governments would state that within 20 to 30 years all ships must sail with zero emission, the maritime industry will seize the opportunity. Then they have the motivation and skills to develop new technology.

No supermarket will ban plastic bags when the competitor is not. All want a “Level playing field”.As in a football match, players may argue, the fans may boo, but the Fifa set the rules and the referee uses his whistle accordingly.

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