Target shipping emissions in the UN climate agreement

The United States, the United Kingdom and 17 other countries pledged at the United Nations Global Climate Summit on Wednesday to curb emissions from the shipping industry by creating zero-emission routes. This move comes at a time when people are increasingly concerned about air pollution in the coastline of the Port of Los Angeles and Long Beach.

The agreement is called Clydeban Statement, Said that all countries will work together to invest in clean energy infrastructure at the ports at both ends of the main trade routes, and establish at least six “green corridors” by the middle of this century, which will eventually make it possible for ships to get rid of fossil fuels and move towards cleaner power sources. If these changes are implemented, the government may require only emission-free ships from Shanghai to Los Angeles, or from Rotterdam in the Netherlands to New York.The initiative is part of an effort announced last week to reduce the maritime sector’s Achieve zero emissions by 2050.

Other countries that signed the pledge at the Scottish summit are Denmark, Japan, Canada, Australia, Germany, France, Chile, Costa Rica, Belgium, Fiji, Finland, Ireland, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway and Sweden.

On a global scale, the shipping industry is the main emitter of greenhouse gases that cause global warming, mainly because one of the dirtiest diesel fuels powers most of its ships. It is a fuel with much higher carbon content than diesel used in automobiles. Cargo ships emit an average of 1 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere each year, equivalent to the sum of all coal-fired power plants in the United States.

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said on Wednesday that the declaration was “a big step forward” and that the United States would help lead efforts to limit the industry’s environmental impact.

“Especially when it comes to shipping, there is a paradox. On the one hand, pound by pound, it is usually the least carbon-intensive way of transporting goods,” he said. “However, it is so much and consumes so much fuel that it represents a huge source of emissions.”

The announcement comes as Los Angeles and the busiest ports of Long Beach in the United States are facing increasingly stringent scrutiny due to cargo ship congestion and worsening air pollution.

When cargo ships burn fuel, they emit not only carbon dioxide, but also smog-forming pollutants, including ozone, nitrogen oxides and fine particulate matter, or PM2.5, which are related to the increase in deaths.

In the chaos of the global supply chain that lasted for months, dozens of cargo ships have been idle on the coast of Southern California, waiting to dock, sometimes even for weeks. According to the Southern California Ocean Exchange, 103 ships destined for Los Angeles and Long Beach berthed on Tuesday, roughly the same number as the previous week. Under normal circumstances, it is typical for a ship to be waiting—or not at all.

Traffic jams are mainly due to the resulting shortages and higher costs that may affect holiday shopping. But environmental advocates are more worried about the health effects of people living near the ports of Wilmington, San Pedro and Long Beach.

Air quality data The 2020 report released by the Port of Los Angeles shows that since October last year, as the number of ships waiting to unload began to increase, pollution has increased sharply. Similar figures for this year have not yet been released.

“From an air pollution perspective, this will only make an already bad situation worse,” said Adrian Martinez, an attorney for the environmental non-profit organization Earth Justice, which has been urging local air quality regulators. Intervene. “This is a double blow for our region, and the public health crisis does not seem to have attracted people’s attention. The only crisis is the inability to deliver goods.”

By 2023, ocean-going ships are expected to surpass heavy diesel trucks and become the largest source of smog and nitrogen oxide pollution in Southern California. predict South Coast Air Quality Management Zone.

Globally, the shipping industry’s greenhouse gas emissions are expected to double by 2050.This increased threat has put new pressure on the United Nations agency responsible for regulating shipping, requiring it to set more ambitious climate targets to meet the requirements of countries in 2015. Paris Climate Agreement.

But there is almost no indication of this. This organization is known as the International Maritime Organization, and has repeatedly postponed regulations to limit emissions in recent years.

At the core of the difficulty of reforming the shipping industry are many of the same problems that countries face with regard to the electrification of cars and trucks. Existing technologies can convert ships from diesel fuel to cleaner energy sources such as hydrogen, green ammonia and batteries, but these fuels cannot reach the required scale.

Although some large companies including Amazon and IKEA pledged last month to use zero-emission ships by 2040, it is currently impossible for these ships to travel along major routes because most ports do not have the equipment to refuel them.

In response to Americans’ growing frustration about supply chain disruptions, President Biden Announced last month The Port of Los Angeles will remain open “24 hours a day, 7 days a week” to help resolve the backlog. Major retailers agreed to clear goods from ports faster to make room for more containers. A similar plan has already been carried out at the Port of Long Beach.

Chris Cannon, Chief Sustainability Officer of the Port of Los Angeles, said that it is too early to know whether the port’s extended working hours have succeeded in reducing the waiting time for ships to dock.

The port is still struggling to handle the piles of containers and is looking for new locations far away from the docks so that they can be moved to new locations so that arriving ships can be unloaded more quickly.

Ed Avol, a professor at the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California, said it is difficult to predict how air pollution from idling cargo ships will affect coastal residents.

Avol said: “We don’t have a straight line to say,’If you are exposed to this kind of focus, you will get this result.'” “But we know from a lot of research that there is a relationship between increased exposure and short-term and long-term health effects. Associated.”

Avol said that for residents living near ports and already suffering from asthma and other respiratory or heart problems, the continuous increase in air pollution for several months may “push them to the edge.”

According to a plan passed by the Los Angeles and Long Beach Port Commissioners in 2017, the port complex should be converted to a non-emissions facility by 2035. As the first step to achieve this goal, the port voted last year to implement a container fee of approximately US$20 to help freight companies buy vehicles with less pollution.

But when the pandemic started, the port delayed the a Recently announced plans, They won’t start collecting until April.

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