Pollution? Control area could reduce emissions in the Portuguese maritime zone

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A study released today estimates that the adoption of a pollutant emissions control area in the North Atlantic would lead to a significant cut in emissions by between 46% and 85% in Portugal’s maritime zone by 2030.

The work, published by Zero – Sustainable Earth System Association, comes from the International Council for Clean Transportation, appointed to carry out technical and feasibility studies for the creation of an emissions control area in the North Atlantic.

Under the coordination of Portugal, through the Directorate-General for Marine Resources (DGRM), the maritime administrations of the Atlantic coastal states began preliminary discussions at the end of 2022 on the potential feasibility of designating an emissions control area in their waters.

According to the DGRM, a pollutant emission control area in the Atlantic, linking the emission control areas in the Baltic Sea, North Sea and English Channel with the one in the Mediterranean Sea, “will constitute a fundamental step in the fight against air pollution from international maritime transport”.

The possible pollutant emission control area in the North Atlantic would include the territorial seas and exclusive economic zones of the Faroe Islands, France, Greenland, Iceland, Ireland, Portugal, Spain and the United Kingdom, with potential expansion to include the Azores and Madeira archipelagos in Portugal and the Canary Islands in Spain, according to Zero, which has participated in meetings of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) as part of the Clean Shipping Coalition delegation.

The study by the International Council on Clean Transportation, the results of which will be incorporated into a proposal to be presented to the IMO, concludes that the designation of an emissions control area in the North Atlantic “could lead to significant reductions in pollutant emissions”, in the order of 36% for black carbon, 64% for fine particles and 82% for sulphur oxides in 2030.

In the case of Portugal’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), the reduction would be greater, 46% for black carbon, 68% for fine particles and 85% for sulphur oxides.

The percentages are estimated if ships use exclusively distillate-based fuel, “the so-called marine diesel that does not contain heavy fuel”, Zero points out in a statement, adding that “the choice of fuels and technologies to comply with emission control area regulations can result in different emission reductions”.

There are currently five emission control areas designated by the IMO.

If created, the North Atlantic emissions control area would “impose stricter regulations aimed at reducing emissions into the atmosphere of sulphur oxides, fine particles and nitrogen oxides”, pollutants that “pose substantial health risks”, namely causing respiratory and cardiovascular diseases and increased mortality, notes Zero.

According to Zero, adapting older ships sailing in this region “to the most demanding standards could result in a 71% reduction in nitrogen oxide emissions”.

Another study by the International Council on Clean Transportation, but from 2019, and also cited by the environmental association, estimated that the transport sector contributed to 385,000 deaths worldwide in 2015, with approximately 15% of deaths attributed to maritime transport.

Iris Lavan
Iris Lavan
With a background as a consultant in the medical industry, Iris Lavan brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to Portugal Pulse. Iris also runs a company in Tel Aviv offering marketing, business development, content creation and public relations services. She holds a degree in economics and management, giving her a solid grounding in business strategy and financial planning. Iris' commitment to Portugal Pulse is reflected not only in her consulting career, but also in her impact on the Portugale media landscape in Israel. She was an interviewer for Hadshot Portugal חדשות פורטוגל, a media outlet that broadcasts news about Portugal in Hebrew, where she provided valuable information on current affairs, healthcare and the economy. Since July 2023, Iris has also been part of the Portugal Pulse team.

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