Oceangoing ships are top sulphur emitters

More sulphur dioxide is produced by oceangoing vessels than all the world’s cars, trucks and buses combined, according to a report by the International Council on Clean Transport released in 2007.

The report calls for tighter emission standards for international shipping in order to address the public health consequences and ships’ contribution to global warming.

The report also criticizes the International Marine Organization for being slow to adopt the best available technologies and fuels.

International ships have become one of the world’s largest, virtually uncontrolled sources of air pollution — rising steadily while emissions from diesel trucks and buses in Europe, Japan and the United States have declined steadily over the past decade.

Globally, ships use fuel with an average sulphur content of 27,000 parts per million, compared with just 10 to 15 ppm for road fuels in developed nations.

It said that, worldwide, oceangoing vessels produced at least 17 percent of total emissions of nitrogen oxide and contributed more than a quarter of total emissions of nitrogen oxide in port cities and coastal areas.

Impacts are especially significant in port cities next to shipping routes. GIS data shows that roughly 70 to 80 percent of all ship emissions occur within 400 kilometers of land.

Globally, carbon-dioxide emissions from the shipping industry now exceed annual total greenhouse gas emissions from most of the developed nations listed in the Kyoto Protocol.

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