Ships under the spotlight for global air pollution

As air pollution becomes a more important global issue, pressure is growing on vessels to help control that pollution, according to a Nov. 27 article in the Wall Street Journal. Ships release more sulfur dioxide than all the world’s cars, trucks and buses combined, according to a stud released in March by the International Council on Clean Transportation. That study also found that vessels produce 27 percent of the world’s nitrogen-oxide emissions.

In response, ports, American states and some nations are adopting their own regulations for ship emissions. For example, since Jan. 1, California has required ships sailing within 24 miles of its shores to use cleaner-burning fuels in auxiliary engines. Vessels that don’t comply can be fined or impounded.

The main culprit is bunker fuel, which powers most vessels. The fuel is cheap and dirty. Attempts are underway to find technological solutions to the problem, such as the vessel Evelyn Maersk, which uses an innovative boiler system to reduce fuel consumption by 10 percent.  The International Maritime Organization could adopt tougher emission standards as early as April 2008.

Click here for Wall Street Journal article.

By Professional Mariner Staff