Study examines ships’ sulphur emissions

Tightening the limit for sulphur in shipping fuels by a third would cut future sulphur deposition in the UK by 6%, according to a study led by the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (CEH).1

Emissions from ships are an increasingly important source of sulphur dioxide (SO2) as controls lag behind those on power stations and other land-based sources (ENDS Report 387, p 24 ).

If shipping traffic grows as predicted, it will be responsible for 28% of UK sulphur deposition by 2020 - up from 9% in the study’s 2002 baseline.

The international MARPOL convention already restricts the sulphur content of bunker fuels used in the North Sea to 1.5%. Cutting the limit to 1% would enhance the downward trend in sulphur deposition, reducing overall levels in 2020 by an extra 6% and shipping’s contribution to around 20%, the study estimates.

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