Air pollution from shipping


in Economics, Science, The environment

This article from The Guardian makes an astonishing claim: Health risks of shipping pollution have been ‘underestimated’.

The article says that a single one of the giant container ships that transport much of the world’s freight emits as much air pollution at 50 million cars:

Cars driving 15,000km a year emit approximately 101 grammes of sulphur oxide gases (or SOx) in that time. The world’s largest ships’ diesel engines which typically operate for about 280 days a year generate roughly 5,200 tonnes of SOx.

The article refers to an American study that found that the world’s 90,000 cargo ships collectively cause 60,000 deaths per year in the United States, through air pollution. It also estimated the associated health care costs at $330 billion per year.

Reducing air pollution is one of the significant co-benefits that can accompany the replacement of fossil fuels with sustainable, zero-carbon sources of energy. At the same time, ships powered using fossil fuels could be made to emit fewer toxic chemicals by toughening the emission and fuel quality standards imposed on them.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

R.K. November 26, 2010 at 3:51 pm

How expensive would it be to make these ships run more cleanly? Also, who has the authority to require that?

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