October 5, 2008
New report on harmful impact of emissions from ships
The Environmental Defense Fund has released a new report on air pollution from large ocean-going ships.
Entitled "Floating Smokestacks: A Call for Action to Clean Up Shipping Pollution," the report analyzes the latest available data from the U.S. EPA and finds that large ocean-going ships in the United States emitted approximately 54,000 tons of particulate matter, equivalent to the emissions from about 117 coal-fired power plants, 745,000 tons of NOx, equivalent to the NOx emissions from 94 coal-fired power plants and nearly 40% of all sulfur dioxide emitted by the transportation sector.
The EDF report comes on the eve of an October 6-10 meeting of IMO's Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) that is expected to adopt significant amendments to the MARPOL Annex VI regulations to reduce harmful emissions from ships. EDF says it "respectfully recommends IMO adoption" of the standards set in the amendments (which is a pleasant change from the tone used by some environmentalist groups).
The new standards will provide for Emission Control Areas, established by IMO, to protect areas particularly sensitive to shipping emissions. In order to protect communities and ecosystems in America, EDF says that the EPA should apply to IMO "to establish an Emission Control Area for the entire coastline of the U.S. The ECA must include rigorous SO2, NOx and PM standards and extend at least 200 nautical miles off the coast, the same distance as our economic zone, in order to be fully protective. Further, the United States should coordinate its efforts with the governments of Canada and Mexico to establish a North American ECA as many of our coastlines are impacted by ships traveling to and from Canadian and Mexican ports and many ships travel on routes that take them to ports in both countries as they unload their cargo from foreign destinations."
EDF says it strongly encourages policymakers and legislators to address the global warming pollution from ships through the following solutions:
Establish greenhouse gas emission standards for ships
Encourage more efficient shipping practices
Increase use of "anti-idling" measures, like shore side power
Additionally, EDF strongly recommends addressing non-CO2 greenhouse gases from ships, including black carbon.
To reduce exposure to pollution from in-port emissions from ships, EDF recommends policymakers carry out available solutions today including:
Fuel switching, from dirty, high sulfur fuels to cleaner grades of diesel fuel
Putting in place pollution control technologies, like alternative marine or shore side power
Operational changes like vessel speed reduction.
You can download the full report HERE