No safe harbor
The amount of air pollution produced by ocean-going vessels is staggering. A single cargo ship can produce as much air pollution as 350,000 cars in an hour. These large, ocean-going ships operate on diesel engines the size of a single-family home, and most burn “bunker” fuel, which is cheap, but much more polluting than fuels used to power vehicles. Bunker fuel contains high concentrations of toxic compounds banned from use in most other industrial and consumer applications.
As global trade increases, global shipping is expected to double within the next decade, bringing shipping pollution to new highs. EPA estimates that emissions from ocean-going vessels will double their contributions to the national mobile source inventory of sulfur oxides and quadruple particulate matter—both of which are major health threats. According to EPA, by 2030 shipping is expected to grow nearly three-fold over 2000 levels. This increased level of shipping not only degrades air quality, but also contributes to the acidification and eutrophication of waterways through deposition and carbon dioxide emissions.
We need to strengthen port regulations to protect local communities and waters, to enact health-protective national and international shipping standards, and to achieve global warming reductions from ocean-going vessels in order to attain pollution reductions worldwide.
Great Barrier Reef at Risk as Coal-Ship Traffic May Jump 67% BusinessWeek, Apr 8, 2010
International regulators agree to curb North American ship pollution
Scott Learn, The Oregonian, March 26, 2010
Ships in US, Canadian waters to face stricter pollution controls Washington Post, Mar 26, 2010
English Channel shipping pollution puts lives in danger Hawkings Gazette, October 2009
US, Canada ask UN-IMO to create shipping pollution buffer zone Story on UN International Maritime Organization, April 2009
SHIPPING’S DIRTY CARGO / Port pollution poses huge health threat International Longshore and Warehouse Union, 2006
Ship pollution clouds USA’s skies. USA Today, 2004
EPA Studies Emissions from Houston-Bound Cargo Ship
International initiative will reduce sulfur dioxide from ship stacks EPA Release on 04/15/2010
It’s official – dirty diesel ships must clean up their act along all U.S. coasts Natural Resources Defense Council (blog) – Mar 26, 2010
Why we can’t afford to expand high carbon fuels Natural Resources Defense Council (blog)
How to Cut Freight Pollution, Part I: Port and Rail Corridor Examples By Environmental Defense, Mar 25, 2010
No Safe Harbor: The Shipping Industry’s Pollution Problem DC Bureau, August 2009
Diesel Ships: Floating Smokestacks Environmental Defense Fund, June 2009
Ship pollution law “not breaching global rules” Helinski Commission, 2007
International Trade & Air Pollution: Economic Costs of Air Emissions Kevin P. Gallagher and Robin Taylor
More from Friends of the Earth
California Air Board Approves Tough New Limits on Ship Emissions
At the urging of Friends of the Earth and other environmental groups, the California Air Resources Board took a bold step towards the clean up of vessel air emissions by passing a regulation to phase out the use of dirty bunker fuel. Starting in 2009, the new rule requires ships to burn low-sulfur diesel fuel instead of bunker fuel within 24 nautical miles of California’s coast — significantly reducing particulate matter, sulfur oxide, and nitrogen oxide emissions. The shipping industry consistently opposes any attempt to reduce the dangerous air emissions from vessels which is why California’s new rule is vitally necessary and important.
Ship Pollution Accelerates Even With Cleaner Fuels
Read new FOE submissions to the IMO on air pollution standards for ships:
- New ship pollution numbers show growth will outpace benefits of cleaner fuels
- Dr. James Corbett’s new air pollution estimates are the most accurate yet
- Friends of the Earth advocates for cleaner marine fuels and ship engines
Friends of the Earth Calls for End to Bunker Fuel Use
Following two major fuel spills by ocean-going vessels in less than a week, Friends of the Earth-U.S. is calling for a global ban on bunker fuel use in ships. The group has launched a people’s petition to the U. S. Congress to end use of bunker fuels in its waters and is appealing to people and organizations in shipping nations and to the International Maritime Organization to do the same.
Sign the Petition | Press Release