Net Environmental Impact
Despite learning this week that Japan plans to construct 22 new coal plants in response to their shift away from nuclear power after the Fukushima disaster, I think it is appropriate to say that industries and countries are trying to identify the most viable pathway forward to reduce our environmental impact. While it is difficult sometimes to discern the commercial message from the purely altruistic, what we don’t want is the global equivalent of “whack a mole” and the unintended consequences of creating new problems while seeking solutions to existing ones.
I have long challenged the wisdom of identifying a “solution” that only satisfies the optics or the immediate issue before us. It is important that we look at the entire problem/solution in terms of “net environmental impact”, rather than just look at short term gain. One example is cold ironing, where the SOURCE of the power is critical to the efficacy of the solution. Another is outlined below when it comes to the discussion about LNG as a fuel alternative.
Whether we are discussing taking sulphur out of exhaust, critters out of ballast water, or cutting fossil fuels from our energy mix, let’s take a holistic approach to ensure that by solving one issue we aren’t creating another. What is the “net environmental impact” of our solution? If it doesn’t result in a reduction in impacts, should we be on that path?
Chief Evolution Officer
IMO Maritime Ambassador
February 5, 2020