Ocean Action Hub

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The Dawn Of Low-Carbon Shipping

30 Jul 2019 - NPR - There are signs that the status quo is changing and a new fuel could make cargo ships among the cleanest transport methods on Earth.

30 Jul 2019 - NPR - There are signs that the status quo is changing and a new fuel could make cargo ships among the cleanest transport methods on Earth.

The global shipping industry is enormous — thousands of ships carry billions of dollars of goods each year across nearly every ocean on the planet.

Those ships run mostly on a particularly dirty type of fuel known as heavy fuel oil, or bunker fuel. It's thick and sooty, and when it burns, it emits sulfur and particulate matter that can cause respiratory illness. It also emits greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide and methane, which trap heat in the atmosphere and cause global warming.

"If shipping was a country, it would be the sixth-largest polluter in the world," says Nerijus Poskus of the shipping technology company Flexport. "About 3% of global emissions are released by ocean freight shipping."

The industry is growing so steadily, he says, that it's projected to produce more than 15% of global greenhouse gas emissions by midcentury if ships continue to burn the same fuel, which is a real possibility considering that most cargo ships are designed to last at least 30 years.

Yet there are signs that the status quo is changing and that a new fuel could make cargo ships among the cleanest transportation methods on Earth.

"Things are changing, and they are changing quite fast, finally," Poskus says.

The international body that helps create global shipping regulations has clamped down on emissions of some air-polluting substances when ships are in or near ports. The new regulations, which started going into effect in 2012 and which decrease limits dramatically in January 2020, require ships to significantly cut the amount of sulfur pollution they emit when they're near land. For the U.S., the regulations apply anywhere within 200 miles of its coastline.

The easiest way to comply with the new regulations is to burn a different, less pollution-intensive type of diesel fuel.

CONTINUE READING ONLINE HERE: http://www.imo.org/en/mediacentre/hottopics/pages/sulphur-2020.aspx

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Palau Is First Nation To Ban 'Reef-Toxic' Sunscreens

2 Nov 2018 - The Pacific archipelago is to ban sunscreens that some researchers believe are killing off coral reefs.

2 Nov 2018 - The Pacific archipelago of Palau has become the first nation to ban sunscreens that some researchers believe are killing off coral reefs and damaging marine environments.

In a law passed this week, Palau defines the banned "reef-toxic" sunscreens as containing any one of 10 chemicals, including oxybenzone and octinoxate, which are found in the majority of sunscreens sold in the U.S., according to the Consumer Healthcare Products Association.

The nation of over 500 islands and around 21,000 people in the Micronesia region of the western Pacific Ocean has in the past taken steps to protect its biodiversity, which greatly contributes to tourism — its main economic driver.

Retailers who break the ban will face fines of $1,000.

"This short but important bill has the potential to make a lasting impact on the environment here," President Tommy E. Remengesau, Jr., wrote in a letter accompanying the legislation. "As more and more people come to visit our pristine paradise with their own eyes, we cannot relinquish our responsibility for these islands."

Remengesau's spokesman, Olkeriil Kazuo, told NPR a big impetus for this legislation's passing was a 2017 report from the Coral Reef Research Foundation which found widespread sunscreen toxins in Jellyfish Lake, a UNESCO World Heritage site and highly popular tourist attraction.

CONTINUE READING ONLINE HERE: https://www.npr.org/2018/11/02/663308800/palau-in-western-pacific-is-first-nation-to-ban-reef-toxic-sunscreens