China is home to 7 of 10 of the world’s largest and busiest container ports, about 30% of the world’s containers pass through China’s ports every year. However, with every ship and truck entering these ports comes not only cargo but also air pollution. Most ships at Chinese ports are fueled by bunker fuel, also known as residual fuel. Almost all port vehicles and equipment are powered by diesel fuel. The exhaust from all of these engines contains high levels of diesel particulate matter (PM), nitrogen oxide (NOx), and sulfuric oxide (SOx). These emissions are known to cause cancer and are associated with a wide range of respiratory and cardiovascular illnesses. A portion of PM from diesel or bunker fuel combustion is black carbon, which is a short-lived climate pollutant that is accelerating glacial, and polar ice depletion as well as exacerbating climate change. NOx emissions from diesel engines also contribute to increasing regional ozone degredation (O3) and fine PM, threatening human health and the environment. The high levels of sulfur in dirty diesel and marine fuels can impair or destroy advanced emission control systems on trucks and vessels; they also lead to high emissions of sulfate-based PM and sulfur dioxid (SO2) emissions that cause damage to ecosystems and contribute to ocean acidification.
This white paper aims to offer regulatory agencies and stakeholders who are interested in curbing shipping and port emissions a summary of the environmental and health impacts of marine emissions, current regulations that govern air pollution and shipping emissions, and solutions for reducing marine air pollution. Background information provided here is meant to help government officials better devise strategies for controlling shipping emissions.