• Clean up of bunker fuels needed to clean up shipping

    A coalition of environmental groups, including T&E, has called for a stricter set of emissions for shipping fuels, in an attempt to end the health and environmental damage caused by bunker fuels.

    The coalition – which includes European, American and international NGOs – wants the shipping industry and governments to make use of next summer’s meeting of the International Maritime Organisation’s marine environmental protection committee to introduce stricter fuel and engine emissions limits. They would then come into effect in 2010. Shipping has generally been seen as an environmentally friendly means of transport, but that profile has been damaged by the use of low-quality fuels (particularly with high sulphur content) used in most ocean-going tankers. Evidence is growing of people getting ill and dying early due to inhaling diesel exhaust from ships, and by 2020 marine emissions are projected to exceed land-based emissions in Europe. The coalition wants reductions of 40-50% in NOx and sulphur oxides by 2010, with sulphur content of bunker fuels to be down to 1% by then, with stricter limits by 2015, and a ban on on-board incineration in coastal waters. Several shipping nations support improved standards, but others have strong links with shipping and oil interests, and the coalition fears they may slow down the drive towards cleaner fuels and lower emissions. • A six-month trial in the North Sea in which sulphur emissions have been traded has cut pollution, a group of shipowners and operators has reported. It said vessels taking part in the scheme produced emissions corresponding to an average sulphur content of 1.2%, which is lower than the 1.5% sulphur limit due to be introduced in the North Sea a year from now. This news story is taken from the November 2006 edition of T&E Bulletin.