China issues first national standard on curbing shipping emissions

China has drawn up its first ever set of national standards on curbing harmful emissions from ships as part of the country’s ongoing fight against air pollution.

The 81-page document was released on 30 August by China’s ministry of environment and the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine, the country’s quality watchdog.

China aims to slash emissions of greenhouse gases and particulate matter (PM) from ships which have an engine capacity of over 37 kilowatts.

In 2013, the shipping sector contributed 8.4% of China’s total sulphur dioxide emissions and over 11% of nitrogen oxide emissions, according to data from the environment ministry.

The industry standards will be enforced in two stages. In the first phase, the shipping industry is required to slash emissions of PM10 and PM2.5 – cancer-causing particulates in the air – by about 70% from the levels in 2016 over the next three years. This can be achieved through the upgrade of technology and the switch to the burning of low-sulphur bunker fuels. One-fifth of the current nitrogen oxide emissions would also need to be cut over the same period.

The government agencies estimated that sulphur dioxide emissions from shipping can be reduced by 540,000 tonnes a year by switching to the use of more environmentally-friendly fuels, and in that process to cut the equivalent emission of 40,000 tonnes of PM.

In the second stage of the enforcement, ship operators need to cut another 40% of PM10 and PM2.5 emissions from levels in 2019, and lower nitrogen oxide emissions by a further 20% from 2020 to 2022.

Chinese government data estimated there are 172,600 ships operating in inland rivers and along the country’s eastern coast. Eight of the world’s top 10 ports are Chinese ports, which together handled about one-quarter of the global shipping traffic.

Posted 02 September 2016

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Lee Hong Liang

Asia Correspondent

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