No Action On Ship Pollution

No Action On Ship Pollution


Teri Shore, Friends of the Earth U.S.

Ships pollute more than you thinkWASHINGTON – Global regulations on ship pollution, intended to bring cleaner fuels and engines to oceangoing fleets starting this July, were scuttled by ship and oil industry lobbyists during a meeting in London. The industry-dominated International Maritime Organization (IMO) has kicked the regulatory ball down the road, delaying even any decisions about regulation until 2008, at the earliest.

“With shipping growth over the next decade expected to bring about a doubling of total ship pollution, the world cannot wait for industry to do the right thing on its own,” said Teri Shore, Clean Vessels campaign director for Friends of the Earth. “The U.S. and other nations must establish, and enforce, clear regulatory guidelines for ship pollution.”

Ports and communities around the U.S. will continue to suffer from increasing volumes of ship pollution unless federal or state regulations are adopted. The shipping industry opposes such measures and has sued the state of California, arguing that the IMO is the place to regulate.

Ship emissions are projected to double in North America in the next decade, exposing people to deadly diesel exhaust that causes respiratory illness, cancer, heart disease and premature death. Shipping growth is so rapid, that even if the sulfur content in bunker fuel were today cut in half (from 3 percent to 1.5 percent sulfur) on all ships operating within 200 miles of the North American continent, the benefits would be outpaced by ship emissions growth within 10 years.

A delegation of international, European and U.S. organizations, formally represented by Friends of the Earth International, are urging the IMO to require ships to reduce emissions by 80 percent or more. This can be accomplished by the use of cleaner marine fuels and the application of available air pollution controls on both new and existing ships. Groups attending this week’s IMO meetings were the Clean Air Task Force, the North Sea Foundation and the Bellona Foundation.

“While many countries and progressive elements of the shipping industry support prompt IMO action, the oil industry, much of the shipping industry and ‘flags of convenience’ countries are dragging their feet,” said Shore. “They cite costs and fuel supplies, ignoring the costs to public health and the environment; and the fact that any clean-up costs will simply be passed onto to the ultimate purchaser of shipped goods.”