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Although air pollution from ships does not have the direct cause and effect associated with, for example, an oil spill incident, it causes a cumulative effect that contributes to the overall air quality problems encountered by populations in many areas, and also affects the natural environment, such as tough acid rain.


This is linked to carbon dioxide increases, also from internal combustion engines on land and at sea (and coal burning), where the ocean has absorbed about 30 percent of the carbon dioxide humans have sent into the atmosphere since the start of the Industrial Revolution – some 150 billion tons.


Ocean acidification – sometimes referred to as climate change's evil twin – refers to the ongoing decrease in the pH of the Earth's oceans. It is the consequence of substances such as CO2 and SO2 that dissolve into the ocean and change the ocean’s chemistry.

The theme of the 2016 World Oceans Day celebrated on 8 June is “Healthy Oceans, Healthy Planet". The day coincides with the official publication of a new JRC study simulating the impact of SO2 emissions from ships on ocean acidification.

The modelling study found that along major shipping lanes, sulphur dioxide (SO2) emissions from ships can further ocean acidification with a rate that is twofold with respect to that caused by carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.

Some ships use exhaust gas cleaning systems, or "scrubbers", to wash their exhaust gases in order to meet the current EU regulations on air quality that restrict the release of SO2 emissions. The resulting acid wash water, which contains SO2, is released into the sea, leading to the acidification of the water.

JRC researchers have looked at the effect that the acid wash water released by ships in the North Sea has on the acidification of sea water, and compared it with the impact of CO2 emissions on ocean acidification.

The researchers confirmed that in overall terms, CO2 emissions are the leading cause of ocean acidification in the North Sea. On average, CO2 emissions cause ocean acidification about eight times more than the release of acid water from ships. However, JRC researchers found that in certain areas where ship traffic is very intense, the impact of SO2 emissions on ocean acidification can be up to 20 times greater than the average impact calculated for the whole North Sea area. In these areas, the impact of acid water release from ships is also two times higher than that of the increasing CO2 emissions.

The researchers also found that the increased SO2 levels influence the capacity of sea water to resist the changes in pH levels. Consequently, for every tonne of SO2 released into the water, the North Sea absorbs about half a tonne less of CO2, with respect to its usual capacity.

The study indicates that there might be potential problems related to the surface water quality – in particular with regard to water acidification – in some critical areas, i.e. ports, estuaries and coastal waters, that are subject to the current EU water and marine regulations.








Ocean acidification also affects whole ecosystems, such as coral reefs, which depend on the formation of calcium carbonate to build reef structure, which in turn provides homes for reef organisms.


Acidification also appears to be reducing the amount of sulfur flowing out of the ocean into the atmosphere. This reduces reflection of solar radiation back into space, resulting in even more warming.

This is the kind of positive feedback loop that could result in run-away climate change – and of course, even more disastrous effects on the ocean.




In 1997, a new annex was added to the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL) administered by the International Maritime Organization (IMO). The regulations for the Prevention of Air Pollution from Ships (Annex VI) seek to minimize airborne emissions from ships (SOx, NOx, ODS, VOC shipboard incineration) and their contribution to local and global ai r pollution and environmental problems. Annex VI entered into force on 19 May 2005 and a revised Annex VI with significantly tightened emissions limits was adopted in October 2008 which entered into force on 1 July 2010.


MARPOL Annex VI, first adopted in 1997, limits the main air pollutants contained in ships exhaust gas, including sulphur oxides (SOx) and nitrous oxides (NOx), and prohibits deliberate emissions of ozone depleting substances (ODS). MARPOL Annex VI also regulates shipboard incineration, and the emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOC) from tankers.


Following entry into force of MARPOL Annex VI on 19 May 2005, the Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC), at its 53rd session (July 2005), agreed to revise MARPOL Annex VI with the aim of significantly strengthening the emission limits in light of technological improvements and implementation experience. As a result of three years examination, MEPC 58 (October 2008) adopted the revised MARPOL Annex VI and the associated NOx Technical Code 2008, which entered into force on 1 July 2010.


Sulphur oxides (SOx) and Particulate Matter (PM) – Regulation 14


SOx and particulate matter emission controls apply to all fuel oil, as defined in regulation 2.9, combustion equipment and devices onboard and therefore include both main and all auxiliary engines together with items such boilers and inert gas generators.


These controls divide between those applicable inside Emission Control Areas (ECA) established to limit the emission of SOx and particulate matter and those applicable outside such areas and are primarily achieved by limiting the maximum sulphur content of the fuel oils as loaded, bunkered, and subsequently used onboard. These fuel oil sulphur limits (expressed in terms of % m/m – that is by mass) are subject to a series of step changes over the years, regulations 14.1 and 14.4:


Outside an ECA established to limit SOx and particulate matter emissions Inside an ECA established to limit SOx and particulate matter emissions




4.50% m/m prior to 1 January 2012 1.50% m/m prior to 1 July 2010


3.50% m/m on and after 1 January 2012 1.00% m/m on and after 1 July 2010


0.50% m/m on and after 1 January 2020* 0.10% m/m on and after 1 January 2015





* as required under regulation 14, a review as to the availability of the required fuel oil was undertaken. MEPC 70 (October 2016) considered an assessment of fuel oil availability and it was decided that the fuel oil standard (0.50% m/m) shall become effective on 1 January 2020 (resolution MEPC.280(70)).


The ECAs established are:


Baltic Sea area – as defined in Annex I of MARPOL (SOx only); North Sea area – as defined in Annex V of MARPOL (SOx only); North American area (entered into effect 1 August 2012) – as defined in Appendix VII of Annex VI of MARPOL (SOx, NOx and PM); and United States Caribbean Sea area (entered into effect 1 January 2014) – as defined in Appendix VII of Annex VI of MARPOL (SOx, NOx and PM).


Most ships which operate both outside and inside these ECA will therefore operate on different fuel oils in order to comply with the respective limits. In such cases, prior to entry into the ECA, it is required to have fully changed-over to using the ECA compliant fuel oil, regulation 14.6, and to have onboard implemented written procedures as to how this is to be undertaken. Similarly change-over from using the ECA compliant fuel oil is not to commence until after exiting the ECA. At each change-over it is required that the quantities of the ECA compliant fuel oils onboard are recorded, together with the date, time and position of the ship when either completing the change-over prior to entry or commencing change-over after exit from such areas. These records are to be made in a logbook as prescribed by the ship's flag State, in the absence of any specific requirement in this regard the record could be made, for example, in the ship's Annex I Oil Record Book.


The first level of control in this respect is therefore on the actual sulphur content of the fuel oils as bunkered. This value is to be stated by the fuel oil supplier on the bunker delivery note and hence this, together with other related aspects, is directly linked to the fuel oil quality requirements as covered under regulation 18. Thereafter it is for the ship's crew to ensure, in respect of the ECA compliant fuel oils, that through avoiding loading into otherwise part filled storage, settling or service tanks, or in the course of transfer operations, that such fuel oils do not become mixed with other, higher sulphur content fuel oils, so that the fuel oil as actually used within an ECA exceeds the applicable limit.


Consequently, regulation 14 provides both the limit values and the means to comply. However, there are other means by which equivalent levels of SOand particulate matter emission control, both outside and inside ECA, could be achieved. These may be divided into methods termed primary (in which the formation of the pollutant is avoided) or secondary (in which the pollutant is formed but subsequently removed to some degree prior to discharge of the exhaust gas stream to the atmosphere).


Regulation 4.1 allows for the application of such methods subject to approval by the Administration. In approving such equivalents an Administration should take into account any relevant guidelines. As of October 2010 there are no guidelines in respect of any primary methods (which could encompass, for example, onboard blending of liquid fuel oils or dual fuel (gas / liquid) use). In terms of secondary control methods, guidelines ( MEPC.259(68)) have been adopted for exhaust gas cleaning systems which operate by water washing the exhaust gas stream prior to discharge to the atmosphere, in using such arrangements there would be no constraint on the sulphur content of the fuel oils as bunkered other than that given the system's certification.






THE GUARDIAN OCTOBER 2017 - Ocean acidification is deadly threat to marine life, finds eight-year study

Plastic pollution, overfishing, global warming and increased acidification from burning fossil fuels means oceans are increasingly hostile to marine life

If the outlook for marine life was already looking bleak – torrents of plastic that can suffocate and starve fish, overfishing, diverse forms of human pollution that create dead zones, the effects of global warming which is bleaching coral reefs and threatening coldwater species – another threat is quietly adding to the toxic soup.

Ocean acidification is progressing rapidly around the world, new research has found, and its combination with the other threats to marine life is proving deadly. Many organisms that could withstand a certain amount of acidification are at risk of losing this adaptive ability owing to pollution from plastics, and the extra stress from global warming.

The conclusions come from an eight-year study into the effects of ocean acidification which found our increasingly acid seas – a byproduct of burning fossil fuels – are becoming more hostile to vital marine life.

“Since ocean acidification happens extremely fast compared to natural processes, only organisms with short generation times, such as micro-organisms, are able to keep up,” the authors of the study Exploring Ocean Change: Biological Impacts of Ocean Acidification found.

Marine life such as crustaceans and organisms that create calcified shelters for themselves in the oceans were thought to be most at risk, because acid seas would hinder them forming shells. However, the research shows that while these are in danger, perhaps surprisingly, some – such as barnacles – are often unaffected, while the damage from acidification is also felt much higher up the food chain, into big food fish species.

Ocean acidification can reduce the survival prospects of some species early in their lives, with knock-on effects. For instance, the scientists found that by the end of the century, the size of Atlantic cod in the Baltic and Barents Sea might be reduced to only a quarter of the size they are today, because of acidification.

Peter Thomson, UN ambassador for the oceans and a diplomat from Fiji, which is hosting this year’s UN climate change conference in Bonn, urged people to think of the oceans in the same terms as they do the climate. “We are all aware of climate change, but we need to talk more about ocean change, and the effects of acidification, warming, plastic pollution, dead zones and so on,” he said. “The world must know that we have a plan to save the ocean. What is required over the next three years is concerted action.”

The eight-year study was carried out by the Biological Impacts of Ocean Acidification group (known as Bioacid), a German network of researchers, with the support of the German government, and involved more than 250 scientists investigating how marine life is responding to acidification, and examining research from around the world. The study was initiated well before governments signed a global agreement on climate change at Paris in 2015, and highlights how the Paris agreement to hold warming to no more than 2C may not be enough to prevent further acidification of the world’s seas.

Governments will meet in Bonn in November to discuss the next steps on the road to fulfilling the requirements of the Paris agreement, and the researchers are hoping to persuade attendees to take action on ocean acidification as well.

Ocean acidification is another effect of pouring carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, as the gas dissolves in seawater to produce weak carbonic acid. Since the industrial revolution, the average pH of the ocean has been found to have fallen from 8.2 to 8.1, which may seem small but corresponds to an increase in acidity of about 26%. Measures to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide reaching the atmosphere can help to slow down this process, but only measures that actively remove carbon already in the atmosphere will halt it, because of the huge stock of carbon already in the air from the burning of fossil fuels.

Worse still, the effects of acidification can intensify the effects of global warming, in a dangerous feedback loop. The researchers pointed to a form of planktonic alga known as Emiliania huxleyi, which in laboratory experiments was able to adapt to some extent to counter the negative effects acidification had upon it. But in a field experiment, the results were quite different as the extra stresses present at sea meant it was not able to form the extensive blooms it naturally develops. As these blooms help to transport carbon dioxide from the surface to the deep ocean, and produce the gas dimethyl sulfide that can help suppress global warming, a downturn in this species “will therefore severely feed back on the climate system”.
By Fiona Harvey







ELECTRIC VEHICLE RESEARCH JULY 16 2014  - Tightening air pollution laws boost e-ships

In two parts of the world — along the U.S. and Canadian coasts, and in the Baltic and North seas as well as the English Channel — the SOx limits are ultra-strict. As of 2010, the sulfur content of marine fuel in these "emission control areas" must be 1 percent or lower. As of 2015, the sulfur content must be 0.1 percent or lower.

These limits explain Totem Ocean Trailer's conversion of its Alaska fleet to LNG as well as Shell's move to make LNG for ships plying the Great Lakes, Mississippi River and Gulf of Mexico coast.

For ships sailing on the open ocean and along other coasts, the sulfur content of their fuel can be 3.5 percent now, a limit that will shrink to 0.5 percent in either 2020 or 2025, depending on cleaner marine-fuel availability.

But neither of these LNG advantages — lower price and pollution — come for free.
The Sulphur Emission Control Area (SECA) will affect all shipping within, into and out of the Baltic, North Sea and English Channel from January 2015. While the introduction of the SECA is justified by the need to reduce sulphur emissions, which have a significant impact on human health, it is likely to damage the economics of longer distance roll-on roll-off (roro) services that help to remove traffic from the Scottish and GB road networks unless hybrids are successful - just changing fuel is not usually economic.

SECA will limit fuel emissions from ships to 0.1% sulphur compared to the current limit of 1.5%. This initiative by the International Maritime Organization and the European Union is justified by the likely positive impacts on human health, buy many observers of the maritime industry believe there will be a significant impact on the economics of ferry services operating to, from and within the SECA. This is because Heavy Fuel Oil (HFO), which is the cheapest marine fuel, will be banned unless the ships' emissions are cleaned using "scrubber" technology - which requires investment by shipping lines that will have to be paid for by their customers in the medium - to long-term. Marine Gas Oil (MGO), the main existing alternative fuel, is much more expensive than HFO.

Liquid Natural Gas (LNG) may provide a cheaper alternative fuel for new ferries in the future, but very few large commercial roro vessels with LNG engines have been built, the retrofit of LNG engines does not appear to be possible and, in any event the refuelling infrastructure is unlikely to be available in many ports by 1 January 2015. However, there is a promising move to hybrid and pure electric sea-going boats and ferries etc.

Motivated in part by serious urban air pollution, the Chinese government last year issued a new Natural Gas Utilization Policy. It calls for more dual-fuel cars and LNG vehicles, plus LNG or dual-fuel ships on rivers, lakes and along the country's coast.

The number of LNG marine filling stations doubled in 2012, reaching 385, mostly located near coastal cities, the LNG association said.

Nonetheless it is unclear whether LNG fuel on its own can leverage its two most winning features — a cost advantage and less pollution — into a sizeable market share in the transportation industry.

On price, LNG is about $1.50 a gallon cheaper than diesel at today's oil and natural gas costs in North America. Clean Energy says its LNG price in California averaged $2.91 per gallon of diesel equivalent last year, compared with a diesel fuel average of $4.23. In Asia, LNG might not have much price advantage because, unlike in North America, so much LNG is sold there at oil-linked prices.

On pollution, new International Maritime Organization rules strictly limit sulfur oxide emissions by ships. Ordinary diesel and heavy fuel oil emit a lot of sulfur oxide when burned. LNG has virtually zero SOx emissions.

For trucks, the build-out of LNG fuelling stations has only just begun. For ships, northern Europe has a few LNG refuelling ports and a couple other ports there are manoeuvring for position. Singapore also hopes to become a refuelling hub.

Further, conversion costs are high. Studies conclude this is a new build option only, unless grants are forthcoming.

The Staten Island Ferry system is using a $2.3 million federal grant to help pay for converting one ferry to natural gas, according to the American Gas Association.



Solar and wind powered cruise ship with wing sails  Solar and wind powered cargo ship with wing sails



TRANSFERABLE TECHNOLOGY - The design of the Climate Change Challenger* might be adapted to Cargo, Container, Cruise and Ferry designs, without needing to radically alter port facilities. The designs above are not representative of adaptations of the concept, but serve to illustrate the thinking of other design houses.


Once proven, scaled up versions of the Challenger might be phased in from 2030, with help from a scrappage scheme and taxation on marine diesel fuels for internal combustion engines.


* A project aiming to design, build and field a zero carbon (solar and wind powered) yacht from 2020.





New Hybrid Ship and Boat Technology

Many companies are launching new hybrid ship and boat technology to work with less polluting fuel where viable. Other technology boosts the case for pure electric powertrains in boats, including some light duty tugboats.

For example Saft, the world's leading designer and manufacturer of advanced technology batteries for industry, is launching its new Seanergy® range of lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery modules developed to offer the proven safety, performance and reliability advantages of Li-ion Super-Iron Phosphate® (SLFP) chemistry in a fully integrated solution designed specifically for civil marine propulsion installations. The new range includes a variety of Energy and Power modules that offer the flexibility and adaptability to create highly efficient, cost-effective battery systems to power full-electric and hybrid electric applications for a wide variety of vessels including work boats, ferries, offshore support, cruise-liners and cargo ships.

"Silent, clean and cost-effective operations are now key priorities for the marine transportation industry," says Didier Jouffroy, Saft's Marine Products and Applications Manager. "That's why Saft has responded by developing the Seanergy range that offers the advantages of our advanced SLFP battery chemistry in a safe, reliable and flexible modular package."

The trend for electric propulsion is being driven by the needs of the civil marine industry to demonstrate that it is sustainable and energy efficient. This means it has to adapt fast to meet ever tighter environmental regulations that aim to reduce both emissions and noise nuisance while increasing efficiency. New concepts in ship architecture are now incorporating advanced battery technology for both pure electric propulsion and hybrid systems, where the batteries work in conjunction with diesel generators, or possibly gas turbines, and electric motors.

Saft's current marine Li-ion battery projects include: Ballerina's brand new electric ferry boat for the city of Stockholm; Icade's electric-powered passenger vessel operated on Paris' Saint-Denis' canal by Vedettes de Paris; two Keolis hybrid diesel-electric ferryboats that operate a shuttle service across the Garonne river in Bordeaux.

SLFP advantages

The key advantages of Saft SLFP cell technology for marine applications are its increased safety, its light weight and compact size, high efficiency, long calendar and cycling life, fast-charging capability and high power output - both continuous and in pulses and the ability to deliver high voltages - up to 1000 V.










2012 COP 18/CMP 8, DOHA, QATAR
2014 COP 20/CMP 10, LIMA, PERU
2015 COP 21/CMP 11, Paris, France
2016 COP 22/CMP 12/CMA 1, Marrakech, Morocco
2017 COP 23/CMP 13/CMA 2, Bonn, Germany
2018 COP 24/CMP 14/CMA 3, Katowice, Poland
2019 COP 25/CMP 15/CMA 4, Santiago, Chile

2020 COP 26/CMP 16/CMA 5, to be announced





COP 1: Rome, Italy, 29 Sept to 10 Oct 1997

COP 9: Buenos Aires, Argentina, 21 Sept to 2 Oct 2009

COP 2: Dakar, Senegal, 30 Nov to 11 Dec 1998

COP 10: Changwon, South Korea, 10 to 20 Oct 2011

COP 3: Recife, Brazil, 15 to 26 Nov 1999

COP 11: Windhoek, Namibia, 16 to 27 Sept 2013

COP 4: Bonn, Germany, 11 to 22 Dec 2000

COP 12: Ankara, Turkey, 12 to 23 Oct 2015

COP 5: Geneva, Switzerland, 1 to 12 Oct 2001

COP 13: Ordos City, China, 6 to 16 Sept 2017

COP 6: Havana, Cuba, 25 August to 5 Sept 2003

COP 14: New Delhi, India, 2 to 13 Sept 2019

COP 7: Nairobi, Kenya, 17 to 28 Oct 2005

COP 15:  2020

COP 8: Madrid, Spain, 3 to 14 Sept 2007

COP 16:  2021









FAST FOOD SLOW DEATH - It's not just fast food, it is our exploitative society that is poisoning the planet, without thought for the consequences. We've been living at artificially low prices at the expense of killing other life on earth. Eat cheap now and suffer later, with health services picking up the tab and costing the taxpayer more than if we'd dealt with ocean dumping up front.


It is possible to turn the tide of plastic into a revenue stream and at the same time reduce climate change - where plastic packaging has a smaller carbon footprint than other packaging mediums.




























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