An article by The Conversation highlights ships’ greenhouse gas pollution and the urgency for maritime emission regulation.


The Conversation has published an article that focuses on shipping’s pollution and its immediate effects on today’s environment. The urgency of curbing pollution from ships, explained describes that with more than 52,000 ships crisscrossing maritime trade routes annually, stricter marine emission regulation is urgently needed. Each year, ships are estimated at burning more than two billion barrels of heavy oil, which contains 1,800 times more sulfur concentrations when burned than diesel. Due to heavy oil’s high sulfur concentrations and the large number of vessels traveling across the world, ships are contribute an estimated two to three percent of the world’s total greenhouse gas emissions. Furthermore, “atmospheric processes transform ship exhaust into toxic particles” which can endanger human health and “acidify lakes and streams hundreds of miles inland.”

With such an impact on global emissions and public health, The Conversation argues that “unless the world takes action to control noxious air pollutants and reduce greenhouse gases, harmful pollution will grow in tandem with global trade in the coming decades.” The International Maritime Organization, a United Nations shipping regulation agency, is one of the bodies capable of implementing maritime pollution regulations. They are currently writing new rules to lower greenhouse gas emissions from ships by 2050, which The Conversation deems as too late.

As part of the international team of scholars, The Conversation has found that ship pollution has contributed to 400,000 premature deaths from lung cancer and cardiovascular disease per year. They also found that marine pollutants lead to an approximate 14 million cases of childhood asthma annually.  This means that shipping emissions will cause an estimated 12,800,000 premature deaths and 448 million cases of childhood asthma by 2050. Given these astounding numbers and the fact that shipping greenhouse gas emissions are only expected to grow as international trade continues to rise, stricter marine regulations are needed as soon as possible.