Monday, February 16, 2015

Good news on the shipping emissions front… BUT watch out for increased ocean acidification!

Friends of the Earth responds [1] to a new report by the International Council on Clean Transportation [2]:

"John Kaltenstein, marine policy analyst at Friends of the Earth, issued the following response:

   Unrestricted and weakly regulated shipping in the Arctic paints a grim outlook for fragile polar environments and for efforts to combat climate-forcing emissions such as black carbon. In just two months, the U.S. will assume the chair of the Arctic Council -- the intergovernmental forum for Arctic governments and peoples -- and it will have an opportunity to push for stronger protections in the Arctic, including a ban on the use of heavy fuel oil. The Arctic requires protection from noxious emissions and the possibility of more frequent heavy fuel and oil spills. The International Council on Clean Transportation’s findings further validate the need for cleaner fuel use. The U.S. has a responsibility to the Arctic -- and to the world -- to protect these unique polar ecosystems and the people and wildlife that reside in the region."

Hurray! This on top of regulations that just entered in effect for general shipping.

Let’s hope “a ban on the use of heavy fuel oil” does not devolve into a higher use of ‘scrubbers’ as a recent IMO (International Maritime Organization) news report on the regulations for general shipping may suggest: [3] 

“Ships trading in designated emission control areas will have to use on board fuel oil with a sulphur content of no more than 0.10% from 1 January 2015, against the limit of 1.00% in effect up until 31 December 2014.”

“Outside the emission control areas, the current limit for sulphur content of fuel oil is 3.50%, falling to 0.50% m/m on and after 1 January 2020.”

That is absolutely great for environmental and more immediately for human health reasons but this good news could be in danger of amounting, quite literally to… sweeping under the rug (in this case hiding the smog under the ocean):

‘Ships may also meet the SOx requirements by using gas as a fuel or an approved equivalent method, for example, exhaust gas cleaning systems or “scrubbers”’

Clearly, these measures to lower sulphur and overall emissions are worthy lifesaving undertakings, but preferred optional use of scrubbers over low sulphur fuels would not seem to be the best answer in relation to the environment.

Ocean acidification anyone?

[1] Arctic shipping report advocates immediate cleanup of vessel fuel to combat emissions 

[2] Air pollution from marine vessels in the U.S. High Arctic in 2025

[3] Ships face lower sulphur fuel requirements in emission control areas from 1 January 2015

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A #Geoengineering #Climate Issues blog - Geoingeniería by Oscar and Jocelyn Escobar is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.Licencia Creative Commons
A #Geoengineering #Climate Issues blog por Oscar y Jocelyn Escobar se distribuye bajo una Licencia Creative Commons Atribución-NoComercial 4.0 Internacional.