Marine

Marine

Ships carry more than 80% of global trade by volume and more than 70% by value, and relatively speaking they are the most fuel-efficient means of transport. But ships are an increasing source of both climate pollution and other air pollutants. Most marine fuel has a sulfur content of 25,000 ppm; compare that to 10–15 ppm for on-road diesel and gasoline (petrol) in North America and Europe. High fuel sulfur content, combined with lax emission standards for marine engines, contributes significantly to local air pollution and related health issues. Fine particulate matter (PM2.5) from shipping has been linked to an estimated 60,000 premature deaths worldwide annually, with 24,000 in East Asia alone. And marine CO2 emissions could account for 17% of anthropogenic emissions in 2050 if left unchecked.

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About the program

Ships carry more than 80% of global trade by volume and more than 70% by value, and relatively speaking they are the most fuel-efficient means of transport. But ships are an increasing source of both climate pollution and other air pollutants. Most marine fuel has a sulfur content of 25,000 ppm; compare that to 10–15 ppm for on-road diesel and gasoline (petrol) in North America and Europe. High fuel sulfur content, combined with lax emission standards for marine engines, contributes significantly to local air pollution and related health issues. Fine particulate matter (PM2.5) from shipping has been linked to an estimated 60,000 premature deaths worldwide annually, with 24,000 in East Asia alone. And marine CO2 emissions could account for 17% of anthropogenic emissions in 2050 if left unchecked.

ICCT’s marine program works to further policies that address the air-quality and climate impacts of shipping at the international, regional, national, and local (port) levels. Since 2007 ICCT research has informed the International Maritime Organization’s Marine Environmental Protection Committee (MEPC) work on policies to reduce air pollution and greenhouse gases from international shipping that include development of Emission Control Areas (ECAs), Energy Efficiency Design Index (EEDI) targets for new vessels, controls for black carbon emissions, and, most recently, IMO’s Comprehensive GHG Reduction Strategy. Our ongoing work on air pollution and heavy fuel oil (HFO) use in Arctic shipping is building a data-driven argument for policy progress at both IMO and the Arctic Council. And the custom emissions inventory tools ICCT researchers are developing from Satellite Automatic Information Systems (S-AIS) operations data are fundamentally strengthening the evidence base available to national and local policymakers committed to reducing air pollution in coastal areas, most notably in China.

Black carbon emissions (tonnes) in the Arctic, 2015.

Dwindling sea ice is opening shipping routes through the Arctic, along with oil and gas development. With increased shipping activity comes an increased risk of accidents, oil spills, and air pollution. Spills of heavy fuel oil and emissions of black carbon are of particular concern for the Arctic. Heavy fuel oil is extremely difficult to recover once spilled, and the combustion of HFO emits black carbon, a potent climate pollutant. (From Prevalence of heavy fuel oil and black carbon in Arctic shipping, 2015 to 2025)

Recent publications

Greenhouse gas emissions from global shipping, 2013–2015

Describes trends in global ship activity and emissions for the years 2013 to 2015 and finds that emissions generally increased over this period, with efficiency improvements more than offset by increases in activity.

2017.10.17 | Report
Distribution of air pollution from oceangoing vessels in the Greater Pearl River Delta, 2015

Compiles a high-resolution ship emissions inventory in the Greater Pearl River Delta (GPRD), a heavily populated and prosperous region with heavy ship traffic. Because this traffic contributes to poor local air quality, the Chinese government has identified the GPRD region as a key target for steps to control emissions from ships.

2017.08.23 | Working paper
Prevalence of heavy fuel oil and black carbon in Arctic shipping, 2015 to 2025

Estimates heavy fuel oil (HFO) use, HFO carriage, the use and carriage of other fuels, BC emissions, and emissions of other air and climate pollutants in the Arctic for the year 2015, with projections to 2020 and 2025.

2017.05.01 | Report
See all publications

Staff blog

Time to party like it's ... 2008?

The International Chamber of Shipping says that because our recent study shows that shipping emissions remain below their 2008 peak, not to worry. That's an overly rosy view of the data.

Staff

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