Air Quality Matters – 2014 in review: Mobile sources – Part 4: Ships

Well, three “Air Quality Matters – 2014 in review: Mobile sources” series parts completed (“Trains,” “Autos, buses, trucks,” and “Aviation”) with two remaining; today’s, with watercraft the feature and Part 5 in which presented will be off-road equipment.

On the water, from a mobile-sources perspective, all has not been smooth sailing. Though, to be fair, emissions-wise, conditions are improving. So, it’s a mixed bag.

Ships – from: “Re emissions-savings, utilization, value, train-time vs maritime: And the winner is …” (Jan. 17):

“To help put things in context, consulted was the European Environment Agency (EEA) report: The contribution of transport to air quality – TERM 2012: Transport indicators tracking progress towards environmental targets in Europe.

“In TERM 2012, the EEA reported: ‘Using current fuel sales data as a proxy for estimating total transport energy consumption in 2011, it appears that transport energy consumption increased by 0.1 % compared to 2010; however, this is still 4.3 % lower than its peak in 2007.’”

Skipping to the next paragraph, written was this:

“Moreover, according to the EEA and also from the TERM 2012 report, international maritime transport greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions rose from slightly more than 100 million tonnes in 1990 to slightly less than 200 million tonnes in 2006, an increase of almost 100 percent.”

And, finally, in the post in question in the second-to-last paragraph:

“Please note also sulfur dioxide (SO2) emissions in the ocean-going-vessel domain are considerable.5

The news does, however, get better. From the same post is this:

“Combined energy use for aviation, rail and shipping has [been] reduced by 5.2 % between 2007 and 2011. The greatest reduction was for domestic navigation (10.2 %), followed by aviation (5.7 %) and rail (5.3 %).”

Jumping to the middle and end of the next paragraph, respectively:

“GHG emissions from international maritime transport held steady until 2009 when such started a downward descent, a decline that continued till at least 2010, the last year for which such data is available.”

“It should be noted, however, between 1990 and 2010, international maritime transport GHG emissions increased by 34 percent.2

On the high seas as well as turning attention dockside, there have been more than a few important developments.

From: “Air quality improvement at the Port of Long Beach: Yesterday, today and …” (Sept. 29), “So, what does progress at the Port today look like?

“Well, in a POLB news item dated Sept. 23, 2014, the Port gushes: ‘Diesel air pollution from ships, trucks, trains and other big machines at the Port of Long Beach has declined by 82 percent since 2005, a comprehensive air quality analysis has found. The report – which focus on 2013 – show seven straight years of steadily declining air pollution from goods movement in the harbor area.’

“The POLB further stated: ‘In addition to the drop in diesel emissions, smog-forming nitrogen oxides and sulfur oxides have been cut 54 percent and 90 percent respectively. Emissions from Port operations have plunged even as shipping activity has increased slightly, with containerized cargo up 0.3 percent since 2005.’”

And to what is such progress owed?

In addition to various dockside emissions-reduction approaches employed, credit larger, more efficient cargo-carrying ships; newer cargo-carrying ships with cleaner engines; and “the lower sulfur content of ship fuels;” to name but several.


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