Leading Global Environmental Group Praises Strong New Emissions Standards for Big Ships

October 9, 2008


Janea Scott at IMO Negotiations, 347-301-4116, jscott@edf.org
Chris Smith, 512-478-5161, csmith@edf.org
Elena Craft, 512-691-3452, ecraft@edf.org
Vickie Patton, 720-837-6239, vpatton@edf.org
(London - October 9, 2008) Environmental Defense Fund today praised the 168 member nations of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) for adopting strong new emissions standards to limit the lethal particulate and smog-forming pollution from ocean-going vessels. These new standards will apply to ocean-going ships such as container ships and tankers that operate around the world.  
“Nearly 90% of ships that call on U.S. ports are foreign-flagged ships, so the progress we made at the international level today is especially important to people living in communities near U.S. ports and along our nation’s coastlines,” said Janea Scott, a senior attorney in the Los Angeles office of Environmental Defense Fund. “This newly adopted international regulation will ensure that all ships, both domestic and foreign, are held to the same rigorous emissions standards.”
The United States partnered with other nations worldwide in complex negotiations to craft these historic clean air standards. These new standards will help restore healthier air to ports and coastal communities around the world. Worldwide, shipping-related particulate matter pollution is responsible for approximately 60,000 cardiopulmonary and lung cancer deaths annually. Ships also are responsible for three percent of the global warming pollution worldwide, about as much global warming pollution as Canada emitsToday’s action, however, did not address greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming pollution. Environmental Defense Fund respectfully urges international action, building from today’s historic measures, to address the heat-trapping emissions from these large ships. 
“Now that nations from around the world have collaborated on historic clean air standards to cut dangerous pollution from big ships, we need to work together here at home to carry out this clean air blueprint and restore healthier air for millions of Americans,” added Scott. “We also urge these world leaders to build from this partnership to address the extensive global warming pollution released from these big ships.” 
To fully carry out these standards, the United States must adopt an Emission Control Area (ECA) delineating protective zones in America’s territorial waters where strong clean air standards must be met. Ships operating in these designated areas will be required to meet the protective emissions standards adopted today.  
“The United States should promptly take the necessary steps to delineate and carry out a protective emissions control area,” concluded Scott.  
A new report released last week by Environmental Defense Fund, “Floating Smokestacks: A Call for Action to Clean Up Marine Shipping Pollution,” shows that these large ships – including cruise ships and container ships – release dangerous diesel pollution that is a public health threat to millions of Americans living and working in port and coastal communities, including Houston and Los Angeles. These ships are a major source of urban smog pollution, and are one of the world’s largest emitters of global warming gases. The new standards adopted today will significantly reduce the harmful emissions of smog-forming nitrogen oxides (NOx); sulfur dioxide (SOx), which forms harmful fine particles and falls back to earth as acid rain; and particulate matter (PM), which is implicated in thousands of premature deaths every year. However, additional negotiations are required to develop and adopt similarly rigorous standards for greenhouse gas emissions.
Ocean-going ships are powered by large high-emitting diesel engines that run on an extremely dirty grade of fuel, called bunker fuel or residual fuel. It has an average fuel sulfur level of 2.7%, which is approximately 1,800 times the sulfur content of the U.S. diesel fuel standards for other major diesel engines. As adopted today, ECA standards will have a diesel fuel sulfur limit of 1.0% beginning July 2010, dropping to 0.1% in January 2015, a 98% reduction from today’s global cap. The standards will also allow for technology to make the same reductions. Beginning in 2016, new ships operating in ECAs must also have advanced-technology engines designed to cut NOx emissions by roughly 80%. It is estimated that the final ECA standards will achieve reductions from current engine emission levels of 80%, 85%, and 95% for NOx, PM, and SOx, respectively. Again, these reductions will only be realized if an ECA designation is made for the United States without delay.