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Tokyo urges moored ships to switch off engines

Tokyo: The Tokyo metropolitan government will begin efforts in fiscal 2009 to encourage large ships moored in Tokyo Bay to shut down their engines, in a bid to eliminate carbon dioxide and airborne pollutant emissions. Moored vessels commonly keep their engines running to ensure sufficient power for onboard operations such as lighting and air-conditioning systems. The Tokyo government, however, plans to supply this necessary power from land. Buses on regular routes across the country have been encouraged to turn their engines off while waiting at traffic lights. In Tokyo, car drivers are encouraged to follow suit under an ordinance, but the measure does not apply to marine vessels. The supply of power to moored ships has become an issue under the central government's plan to achieve the country's greenhouse gas emissions-cut target under the Kyoto Protocol. The Tokyo government plans to begin supplying power to moored ships for a fee as early as fiscal 2011, and plans to start building a power transmitter at Hinode Pier in Minato Ward in fiscal 2009. The land power supply will initially be restricted to domestic vessels such as cargo ships, large ferries and sightseeing boats that consume large amounts of energy. About 4,000 vessels fall under this category annually. According to the Tokyo government's Ports and Harbours Bureau, about 25,000 domestic vessels and 6,500 foreign-registered vessels arrive in Tokyo Bay each year. The vessels often leave their engines running while moored to convert fuel oil into electricity. The practice emits large volumes of CO2, as well as acid rain-causing sulfur dioxide from the use of ship fuel with a high sulfur content. Nitrogen oxide, a substance that causes photochemical smog, also is released. The concentrations of NOx and other airborne pollutants along the edge of Tokyo Bay is reportedly 20 percent to 30 percent higher than the average across the capital's 23 wards. Since last month, the Tokyo government has been researching the effect of land power supply on reducing CO2 emissions using three National Institute for Sea Training vessels as a testing platform. The institute is an independent administrative institution. The Tokyo government also will look into providing subsidies for equipment on vessels that enable them to receive land-based power supplies. Construction and Transport Ministry calculations show if domestic vessels shut down their engines in ports, CO2 emissions could be cut by 1 million tons a year--about half the current levels of emissions, even after taking into consideration the land-based power generated for moored ships. "[In this way], we might be able to reduce airborne pollutants by 90 percent or more," a ministry official said. Moves to prevent moored vessels from idling already have begun overseas. The Los Angeles city government is supplying power from land to large container ships and other large vessels moored in Los Angeles Bay. [13/01/09]

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