Confidential data from maritime industry insiders based on engine size and the quality of fuel typically used by ships and cars shows that just 15 of the world’s biggest ships may now emit as much pollution as all the world’s 760m cars. Low-grade ship bunker fuel (or fuel oil) has up to 2,000 times the sulphur content of diesel fuel used in US and European automobiles.
The setting up of a low emission shipping zone follows US academic research which showed that pollution from the world’s 90,000 cargo ships leads to 60,000 deaths a year in the US alone and costs up to $330bn per year in health costs from lung and heart diseases. The US Environmental Protection Agency estimates the buffer zone, which could be in place by next year, will save more than 8,000 lives a year with new air quality standards cutting sulphur in fuel by 98%, particulate matter by 85% and nitrogen oxide emissions by 80%.
The problem isn’t necessarily with the ships’ 109,000-horsepower engines that endlessly spin away 24 hours a day, 280 days a year. In fact, these powerplants are some of the most fuel efficient units in the world. The real issue lies with the heavy fuel oil the ships run on and the almost complete lack of regulations applied to the giant exhaust stacks of these container ships.
- The world’s biggest container ships have 109,000 horsepower engines which weigh 2,300 tons.
- Each ship expects to operate 24hrs a day for about 280 days a year
- There are 90,000 ocean-going cargo ships
- Shipping is responsible for 18-30% of all the world’s nitrogen oxide (NOx) pollution and 9% of the global sulphur oxide (SOx) pollution.
- One large ship can generate about 5,000 tonnes of sulphur oxide (SOx) pollution in a year
- 70% of all ship emissions are within 400km of land.
- 85% of all ship pollution is in the northern hemisphere.
- Shipping is responsible for 3.5% to 4% of all climate change emissions
Filed Under: Cars & Transport