Possibilities for change: incorporating technology policy and analysis of stakeholder preferences into the environmental policy framework for reducing air emissions from containerized supply chains

Woehl, Melissa
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University of Delaware
This research, through a detailed assessment of the vessel emissions issue and the containerized shipping segment, examines the environmental policy-making framework within the area of international maritime shipping. It evaluates current approaches and methods being used and investigates whether or not alterations could be made to improve the current policy-making process for environmental issues. Specifically, this work probes whether or not the incorporation of concepts from technology policy and decision theory, explicitly through tools designed to identify stakeholder values, could provide new insights to or approaches for environmental policy-making within the international marine transportation system. The study then provides direction as to how these elements might be integrated with the current structure. An industry born from and controlled by the supply and demand requirements of growing domestic and global economies, international marine transportation has a reputation of fierce internal competition. This characteristic rewards forward thinking and has led to a focus on technological change and innovation for advancement. Unlike many land-based industries, though, international marine transportation has been able to continue to drive its development - from a regulatory standpoint - in a uniquely independent manner due to its distinctive situation as a business where every nation has a stake but no one has ultimate control [1-6]. Knowledge regarding the harmful effects and sources of various air pollutants such as nitrogen oxides, sulfur oxides, and particulate matter grew through focused research during the 1970's and 1980’s, but recognition and examination of the global contributions and impacts from ocean-going commercial marine vessels did not occur until the 1990’s. Since that time, international and domestic organizations have devoted time, resources, and research to identify, measure, and understand the impacts of the vessel emissions issue. Based on the results of that work, regulations and agreements were implemented across multiple levels -- local, regional, domestic, and international. These initiatives, however, especially at the domestic and international levels, are slow-moving and tend to predominantly focus on certain participant groups, discouraging communication and coordination among all of the stakeholders [1-11]. This work proposes a shift or transition in attention and research towards the process -- towards studying ways to specifically improve and expand the environmental policy-making framework -- and contends that process-focused developments serve as an effective means for supporting and facilitating continuous improvements in the reduction of vessel emissions. Due to a combination of specific operational and geographic attributes (which will be discussed in greater detail in the next chapter), the containerized shipping segment serves as the most critical target within the international shipping industry for this issue. Vessel air emissions is certainly not the only environmental problem, and the container industry is not the only segment of the international shipping community, but the method of approaching environmental issues within the marine transportation system (MTS) has become a somewhat standardized process across problems and industry sectors, making the conclusions from this work readily applicable to other environmental issues and segments within the global maritime system.