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All together now

28 Nov 2010
Most efforts to date are piecemeal actions by individual ports or shipping companies

Most efforts to date are piecemeal actions by individual ports or shipping companies

Air pollution from the international shipping industry takes a huge toll on public health and the climate. It causes tens of thousands of premature deaths each year in coastal port cities

Air pollution from the international shipping industry takes a huge toll on public health and the climate. It causes tens of thousands of premature deaths each year in coastal port cities.

Moreover, if the international shipping industry were a country, it would rank just below Japan as the fifth largest emitter of carbon dioxide.

Reducing pollution from international goods movement is one the biggest environmental challenges of the 21st century. As cited above, most efforts to date, though commendable, are piecemeal actions by individual ports or shipping companies. To be most effective over the long term, environmental protection strategies should focus on the entire chain in order to achieve the greatest and most enduring success at the least cost. This includes the ships moving between ports, inland waterway vessels, and the land vehicles serving the ports where the ships are located.

Given this, there is a proposal by Energy Futures and its European partner, Clean Fuels Consulting in Brussels to conduct a comprehensive supply chain environmental analysis of the use of LNG in international container goods movement.

The analysis will compare emissions of several key air pollutants from goods movement using the green LNG supply chain versus emissions under business-as-usual shipping using diesel and bunkerfuel.

The study will estimate emissions at each step linking a goods manufacturing site in Asia to consumers in Europe and North America. This would include the transport by “short sea” ship from the manufacturing site located upriver to an exporting coastal container port and movement within the port by yard tractors.

Preliminary analyses present a promising picture for a role of the new fuel in container shipping. Emissions of two key pollutants — particulate matter and sulphur dioxide — are virtually eliminated when bunkerfuel is replaced by LNG. Nitrogen oxides emissions have been shown to drop by more than 70%, carbon dioxide emissions implicated in global warming decline by 30%, and significant reductions in toxic pollutants occur as well.

Back on the landside, when LNG replaces even the relatively clean diesel fuel in yard tractor and port trucks, impressive emission cuts are being documented.

It looks likely that the full study will show the pollution reduction potential of using LNG in each transport element in the supply chain as well as identifying potential fuel options to reduce emissions as well as saving money – although discussions on this study and other new integrated supply chain analyses will be coming soon subject to adequate industry funding.

James Cannon is president of Energy Futures, Inc. in Boulder, Colorado, USA, and Jeffrey Seisler is CEO of Clean Fuels Consulting in Brussels, Belgium. These and many other port clean-up projects have been discussed in two recent reports, ‘US Container Ports and Air Pollution: A Perfect Storm’ and ‘Container Ports and Air Pollution’.

 

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Most efforts to date are piecemeal actions by individual ports or shipping companies

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