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International Shipping

The amount of air pollution produced by ocean-going vessels is staggering. A single cargo ship can produce as much air pollution as 350,000 cars in an hour. These large, ocean-going ships operate on diesel engines the size of a single-family home, and most burn “bunker” fuel, which is cheap, but much more polluting and climate-warming than fuels used to power vehicles. Bunker fuel contains high concentrations of toxic compounds banned from use in most other industrial and consumer applications.

As global trade increases, global shipping is expected to double within the next decade, bringing shipping pollution to new highs. EPA estimates that emissions from ocean-going vessels will double their contributions to the national mobile source inventory of sulfur oxides and quadruple particulate matter — both of which are major health threats. Increased ship emissions not only degrade air quality, but also contribute to global warming, ocean acidification and eutrophication of waterways.

Friends of the Earth works at the local and state levels to strengthen port regulations to protect local communities and waters, to enact health-protective national and international shipping standards, and to achieve global warming reductions from ocean-going vessels in order to attain pollution reductions worldwide.


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Impact Stories See All
Keeping Puget Sound Clean
Keeping Puget Sound Clean

Five years of environmental activism will clean the state’s waterways, protect public health, and boost local economy. This is a major win for both Washington and our planet.

Latest News See All
International Maritime Organization adopts key international routing and protection measures for Bering Sea

As climate change continues to alter the Arctic, it is imperative that Indigenous communities and practices are not threatened by large-scale commercial marine activity.

U.S. Senators Reject Attempt to Weaken Protections from Aquatic Invasive Species

In a major victory for clean water, outdoor recreation, and local economies across the country, the U.S. Senate today rejected attempts to weaken Clean Water Act protections to prevent aquatic invasive species from entering U.S. waters through the discharge of ballast water. 

U.S. Senate Assault on Clean Water Act Will Leave Environment, Economy Vulnerable to Invasive Species

The Clean Water Act has provided protection for our waters from polluted ship discharges for almost a decade. Congress must not allow this dirty industry to start dumping its pollution in our oceans and lakes again.

Latest Blog Posts See All
As history and records are set in 2018, the world must listen to Arctic Indigenous Peoples at IMO
As history and records are set in 2018, the world must listen to Arctic Indigenous Peoples at IMO

Pollution threats from HFO tie into the very fiber of our lives — affecting our access to healthy wildlife for food and the quality of our lands.

The foreseeable end of vessel heavy fuel oil use in the Arctic
The foreseeable end of vessel heavy fuel oil use in the Arctic

The threat posed by heavy fuel oil in the Arctic is substantial. In fragile, ice-covered marine environments, use of this fuel by ships is a disaster waiting to happen.

IMO advances anti-pollution initiatives at MEPC 72
IMO advances anti-pollution initiatives at MEPC 72

Being part of the IMO process is integral for the health and wellbeing of our oceans. I am thankful for our partners and funders for helping to make a difference in the lives of Arctic communities, wildlife and the environment.

Resources See All
  • Oil Tanker Info Sheet
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  • Northwest Campaign Info Sheet
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  • Tar sands/Dilbit Crude Oil Movements Within the Salish Sea
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