From 1 September 2017, Zhejiang joined other ports in the Yangtze River Delta ECA, imposing a 0.5% sulphur cap on vessels at berth.
The move follows similar actions taken on 1 April 2016, by key ports in the Yangtze emissions control area including Shanghai, Ningbo-Zhoushan, Suzhou and Nantong.
Shenzhen Port joined the low sulphur regime on 1 October 2016. Other Pearl River Delta ports including Guangzhou and Zhuhai, together with Bohai Zone ports, Huanghua, Tanshan, Tinajin and Qinhuangdao, signed up to the new rules on 1 January 2017.
Shenzhen Port includes ten berths fully equipped with shore power facilities, which vessels can employ during berthing as an alternative to burning low sulphur fuel.
Some critics have pointed to the preponderance of coal or oil burning power stations in the region that, by powering the onshore facilities, would negate the eco-friendly intentions of the port. But with very few containerships having been equipped with the necessary means of employing onshore power they are not likely to get much use in the foreseeable future.
The Beijing-led regulations will become more stringent from 2018, when ships will be required to switch to the low sulphur fuel prior to vessel berthing. From 2019, all vessels may be required to switch to low sulphur fuel prior to entering any ECA.
Beijing will assess the relative success of the ECA regime before the end of next year, when it will decide whether to lower the cap to 0.1% sulphur content prior to vessel berthing.
Hong Kong has been the pioneer of reducing ship emissions in the region since it introduced Air Pollution Control (Ocean Going Vessels) Fuel at Berth) Regulation Cap 311AA , which mandated the use of low sulphur fuel not exceeding 0.5% from 1 July 2015. This followed an earlier voluntary fuel-switch scheme adhered to by 17 shipping companies under the Fair Winds Charter from 2011.