California rules give great benefits

No. 2, June 2011

Contents: Necessary to go for 50 per cent by 2020 (editorial), The remaining carbon budget, High economic benefits of new NEC directive, The role of forests in the Climate Convention, 100 percent renewable energy globally by 2050, Strict sulphur standards no threat to shipping.

Contents: Negotiating new air pollutant ceilings. Overhaul of EU air quality policy announced. Potential for cuts in the non road sector. EU voting on new climate target for 2020. IPCC: Huge potential for renewable energy. Ship pollution causes 50,000 deaths per year. Call for new approach to nitrogen management.

Implementing the stricter ship fuel sulphur standard of 0.1 per cent in the Baltic Sea and the North Sea, is estimated to save up to 16,000 lives per year in the EU in 2020.

Contents: How to avoid critical levels of climate change. GHGs must peak by 2015. MEPS call for binding energy efficiency target. New analysis of NECs. EU consults on marine fuels. Feature: coal in Europe. Intercontinental transport of air pollutants

Contents: High costs of delaying NEC directive revision (editorial). Big benefits in ship fuel action. Renewables industry –we can power the EU! 1.5° tough, but doable. New emission ceilings for 2020 underway. Agreement on Industrial Emissions.

Contents: Shipping must pay its bill (editorial). Particles killing half a million. Roadmap for 2050 offers low-carbon Europe for free. Ozone, plants and climate - views and news. The poor legacy of Copenhagen. NOx sources in the UK: the story behind the figures. Go slower to go greener

Contents: The right to clean air (Editorial) Cutting NOx emissions - the Norwegian way. Renewables can power the world. Success and failures in pollution abatement. Billion dollar benefits from new air standards. Supergrid paves the way for windpower. GHG reductions will bring health benefits.

Contents: Copenhagen checklist (editorial). The world at +4oC. Dirty dozen - the most polluting power plants. Countries lagging behind – NEC directive follow-up. Boreal forests in peril. Tar sand – destructive developments. Warming speeds up. Make ships pay for their emissions.

Contents: Bring them in (editorial). Most rich Kyoto countries off track. Island states call for action. Air quality exemptions questioned. Cleaner ship fuels may save 45,000 lives. Shipping climate policy drifting. Industrial emissions legislation watered down. Still high ozone levels. Pollution treaty to be revised.
Factsheet: High noon for +2ºC.

Contents: Europe needs Emission Control Areas (editorial). Cleaner ship fuels to save lives. Ships pollute half as much as world's cars. Cut CO2 emissions from ships. GHG emissions increasing. Particles - small but dangerous. New industrial emissions directive under way. Dirty thirty list. Air quality compliance postponed. CO2 emissions from cars.

Contents: Enforcement is the key (Editorial). 16 states exceed emisson limits. Petrol vapour recovery to become mandatory. Strong – and weak, The EU climate package. One per cent will do. Ecosystems under threat. The top-ten list of European polluters. Ocean acidification – the other CO2 problem. Stricter EU standards.

Content: Still possible to stay below 2°C, Industrial air pollution cost up to €169 billion, Moving towards stricter ship sulphur standards, Countdown for Energy Efficiency Directive, Gothenburg Protocol soon to be agreed, Twelve countries exceed NEC directive limits, Climate hotspots

No. 2, June 2012

Content: New Gothenburg Protocol adopted, New Danish energy agreement, Welcome to the golden age of fracking, Biggest environmental cause of mortality, The arrival of a new EU sulphur law, Ozone levels still much too high, Pollution from traffic kills 5000 a year in UK

Contents: Management or protection of boreal forest?. Emission source shift, from land to sea. Smarter structure for energy taxation. Finding ambition levels for a revised protocol. Coal-fired plants hinder German climate targtes. Sulphur emissions from shipping to be slashed. California rules give great benefits.

Content: Progress in EU air policy review, China: New standards for power plants, Slow steaming saves money and the climate, Climate policy for the agricultural sector, Opinion: Ten one-liners for air policy, F-gases still a problem, New CO2 standards for cars and vans

Content: The costs of  climate change, Is air quality in Europe getting any better?, Great potential for  changing behaviour, EU greenhouse gases fell by 2.5% in 2011, The Climate Bonus, Cleaner ship fuels will dominate in 2020, Arctic shipping threatens environment

Content: Small chimneys – big emissions, Running out of time – the LCPD bites at last, Progress too slow in transport sector, Revising EU air pollution policy, Nitrogen overload still harms ecosystems, Scope for reducing ammonia emissions, Tailwind for wind

Content: Finding the ambition level for NEC, significant cuts in carbon within reach in the Nordic-Baltic region, call for international nitrogen framework, stricter US standards for road vehicles proposed, shipping should cut GHGs and air pollutants, stricter rules for machinery on the way, CCS sidelined by tenuous financing

Content: Warming can be limited to 1.5°C,  Shale gas has lost lustre, Agreement on equity issues essential, Shipping air pollution costs €60 billion per year, US: air pollution causes 210,000 deaths a year, High potential to cut air pollution from LCPs, More food less climate change

Content: Proposal not enough to meet ship CO2 target, Global roadmap for less-polluting vehicles, Livestock behind 7.1 gigatonne GHGs, Global warming unequivocal, Anti-coal movement in Europe is growing and Energy, climate and air quality policy synergies

Content: A new EU clean air strategy up to 2030, Banking on coal, Ships should use advanced monitoring, CCS in Norway, Oceans acidify at unprecedented rate, Stricter standards for non-EU power plants, EU climate and energy targets for 2030

Content: 150 ways to cut GHG emissions, IMO weakens NOx rules for ships, A changing climate creates pervasive risks, Hidden costs make coal expensive, Diet shifts could reduce nitrogen pollution, SCR can cut ship NOx emissions and Europe’s biggest polluters

Content: Air pollution still harms ecosystems, The fair share of climate responsability, Proposal for coal phase-out in Germany, UK brought to court on bad air qualty, Sustainable food choices, New figures on global ship emissions, Carbon dioxide concentration surges

Content: NRMM proposal low in ambition late in timing, Wind energy – so much potential, Many loopholes in testing system, IPCC : delaying action implies higher costs, Biogas from manure, Air quality targets much cheaper than expected, Leave fossil gas in the ground

Content: Industrial air pollution cost €189 billion/year, Norwegian CCS ambitions might move to the EU, Enforcement of ship sulphur standards, Launch of Energy Union – mixed messages, East German lignite at a crossroads, Achieving NEC targets will cost less

Content: Cities’ air quality efforts ranked, France: 100% renewables as cheap as 50% nuclear, Danish farming futures, Ship scrubbers questioned, New draft EU coal limits weaker than in China, Sweden without gas

Content: Environment MEPs want stricter air pollutant caps, Exposing the role of coal in Europe - launch of European Coal Map, Pledges for the 2015 UN climate agreement, 140 000 life-years lost each year in London, Film: 1,5 stay alive

Content: The costs of melting Permafrost, Tipping points - no safe limit, Diesel cars will continue to exceed emission limits, Cut agricultural ammonia emissions, Legally binding phase-out law for coal.

A 1.5 target is needed to save the Baltic Sea, CCS in Norway, Member states weaken NEC targets, EU without an energy strategy to fulfil Paris agreement, Nitrogen on the table, Harmful air pollution, The polluter-pays principle or the polluterprofits principle?

Ecosystems more sensitive than previously thought

Three-quarters of EU ecosystems are currently exposed to more nitrogen deposition than they can cope with and nearly one-tenth is receiving too much acid fallout.

Content: Paris changes everything, Paths to a sustainable agricultural system, Coal kills across borders, A phase-out plan for coal in Europe, New watered-down EU air pollution targets, Many ways to cut ship NOx emissions, OECD warns of rising
costs of air pollution



Content: IMO confirrms 2020 date, End derogations for polluting coal plants, A Europe powered only with renewable energy, Climate target for agriculture, Air pollution costs trillions, Germany's slow decarbonisation, Unique oppurtunity for Ukraine

Switching to low sulphur fuels in shipping can provide greater reductions in air pollutant emissions than previously assumed. Carbon dioxide emissions also drop when ships slow down because of the more expensive fuel.

The effects of new ship fuel regulations and voluntary lowering of speeds have been investigated in a recently published study1, led by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) scientist Daniel Lack.

In May 2010, the research team measured the emissions from a commercial container ship, Maersk Line's Margrethe Maersk, about 40 miles off the coast of California, while the ship was burning heavy fuel oil (HFO) containing 3.15 per cent sulphur and 0.05 per cent ash. Another set of measurements took place after the ship had switched to marine gas oil (MGO) containing 0.07 per cent sulphur and less than 0.01 per cent ash.

The fuel switch occurred over a 60-minute period, just before the ship came within 24 nautical miles of the California coast. As the ship participated in the Californian voluntary speed reduction incentive programme, it also slowed down from 22 knots to 12 knots, at about the same time as the fuel switch took place.

As the ship transitioned from high sulphur HFO to low sulphur MGO and slowed down the emission factors (expressed as grams of pollutant per kilogram of fuel) for sulphur dioxide (SO2) and fine particles (PM) dropped by about 90 per cent. The emission factors for sulphate (SO4), cloud condensation nuclei (CCN) and black carbon (BC), pollutants that may have either negative or positive climate impacts, also dropped, by 97, 95.5 and 41 per cent, respectively.

More importantly, emissions per kilometre travelled fell even more. By reducing the speed, fuel consumption was significantly reduced, resulting in a 55-per-cent cut in emissions of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide (CO2). In addition, the switching from HFO to MGO resulted in a 6-per-cent reduction in CO2 emissions, due to the higher energy content of MGO. These two factors combined resulted in an overall CO2 emission reduction of 58 per cent.

Calculated as emissions per kilometre travelled, pollutant emissions of SO2 and PM both came down by 96 per cent, and those of BC by 75 per cent (see table of all pollutants).

Table: Emission reductions per kilometre travelled by the Margrethe Maersk as a result of fuel switch, speed reduction and combined.

While SO2 is best known as a precursor to acid rain, it also degrades air quality, both directly and indirectly through chemical reactions in the atmosphere. Emissions of SO2 lead to the formation of secondary sulphate particles (PM2.5) in the atmosphere, which poses serious public health concerns. Sulphate particles have a negative radiative forcing, i.e. they contribute to cooling the planet.

Primary PM is a well-known health hazard and can, among other things, damage people's lungs and hearts, leading to premature deaths. Black carbon is a component of PM that comprises dark-coloured particles that can warm the atmosphere and also degrade air quality.

The authors of the study discuss the net radiative effect (warming vs. cooling) of the fuel switch. Changes in the emissions of various air pollutants – some which have a warming effect, others which have cooling effects – likely mean net warming. They argue that the reduction in BC emissions due to fuel quality changes "might suggest a consideration of more refined fuels for future Arctic shipping."

The study's new information on reductions in PM emissions suggests that switching to low-sulphur MGO will result in greater health improvements than previously estimated. So the findings of this study could have global significance, as new international regulations by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) require vessels in designated Sulphur Emission Control Areas (SECAs) to switch to MGO with a maximum of 0.1 per cent fuel as from 2015. At present, nearly the whole coastline of the U.S. and Canada (out to 200 nautical miles) as well as the Baltic Sea, the North Sea and the English Channel are SECAs, and more sea areas may follow their initiative.

Moreover, from 2020 IMO's global sulphur limit will be strengthened from the current level of 4.5 per cent to 0.5 per cent.

"These scientific findings clearly demonstrate that ships off our coast now emit significantly less sulphur pollution than in the past," said California Air Resources Board Chairman Mary D. Nichols. "This is good news for California and for the nation. When the federal regulations kick in for ships to use low-sulphur fuel, communities throughout America that live near shipping lanes and next to ports will see clean air benefits."

Christer Ågren

Impact of Fuel Quality Regulation and Speed Reductions on Shipping Emissions: Implications for Climate and Air Quality. By Daniel Lack et al. Published in Environmental Science & Technology.
Source: NOAA, 12 September 2011.

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