Thursday, October 09, 2008

Bulletin: international group oks new pollution standards for ocean-going ships

We have just received very positive news from London, where our friend, David Marshall of the Clean Air Task Force, has been participating in the International Maritime Organization meeting on ocean ship pollution. David reports that there has been an agreement on new standards. See his statement below.


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE For further information please contact:-

David Marshall, Clean Air Task Force,; Tel: 603-428-8114.

Thousands of Lives to Be Saved Each Year under New Shipping Pollution Accord

Environmentalists Urge Further Curbs on
Global Warming and Smog Emissions

(London, October 09, 2008)—Tens of thousands of lives each year will be saved under new air pollution control rules for marine ships adopted by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) in London today. But, according to environmentalists, more efforts need to be taken to curb smog and global warming emissions from ships.

“This is a great step forward for health and the environment” said David Marshall of the Clean Air Task Force (CATF), an environmental organization that participated in the IMO deliberations and commissioned a key study showing the health impacts of ships. “After a decade and a half of discussion and pressure from environmentalists around the world, the IMO has finally taken action to clean up shipping fuels. But more needs to be done to curb health- and climate-damaging emissions from ships.”

Marshall noted that the world’s oceangoing ships presently burn some of the world’s dirtiest fuel—more than 3,000 times dirtier than the fuel that is required to be burned in US and European diesel cars and trucks. These ships spew millions of tons of sulfur each year—almost 10% of the total sulphur oxides emissions, causing acid rain and forming deadly secondary fine particulates, a major threat to human health. Most of this pollution is emitted within 250 miles of shore and threatens the health of communities well inland.

A CATF-commissioned study by respected academic researchers, published in December 2007 in the American Chemical Society Journal Environmental Science & Technology and presented to the IMO by CATF and Friends of the Earth International (FOEI) estimates that ship emissions cause some 60,000 premature deaths throughout the world each year. A follow-up CATF-commissioned study also presented to the IMO showed that under a ‘no action’ scenario, shipping air pollution would be responsible for more than 80,000 premature deaths per year by 2012.

The decision follows a three-year debate .in which the US-based CATF and other environmental groups representing FOEI in the IMO process have been working to toughen the internationally binding standards for shipping emissions of sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and deadly fine particles..

In the US alone, ship emissions cause several thousand heart attacks and bronchitis cases, as well as many thousands of new cases of exacerbated asthma and other upper and lower respiratory problems, and more than one hundred thousand missed workdays. These impacts cost society hundreds of billions of dollars annually. Poorer communities located near ports around the world are disproportionately affected.

While applauding IMO’s actions on sulfur emissions, CATF expressed disappointment over IMO’s failure to agree on any real reduction of nitrogen oxide emissions from the existing global fleet of over 90,000 ships. Marine ships emit about 15% of the world’s nitrogen oxides – which cause acid deposition, deadly fine particles, and ozone smog. Coastal states will need to take action on their own to reduce this type of shipping pollution on a national and regional basis., Marshall said.

With the sulfur issue behind it, the IMO turned its focus to efforts to reduce the global warming impacts of shipping. Ships not only emit toxic air pollutants damaging to human health, but also emit about 1 billion tons of carbon dioxide annually, or almost 3% of global emissions. Ships also emit roughly one hundred thousand tons of black carbon soot each year. Soot is also a potent global warming agent since it traps heat; its effect is greater in the Arctic, where it also deposits on snow and ice, speeding up the melting process by creating dark surfaces. CATF participated in the IMO’s discussions this week, urging delegates to adopt a comprehensive approach to reducing the global warming impact from ships as soon as possible.

1 comment:

maria said...

This action could be a sea change that ultimately helps steer us to cleaner, healthier air for the millions of Americans harmed by toxic air pollution.......