Browse Tag by transportation

Time to regulate CO2 pollution from airplanes


The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is now starting to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from airplane engines, one more anti-pollution action after ground transportation and power plants. The EPA wants to derive authority from the Clean Air Act to control “air pollution that causes climate change and endangers public health and welfare,” but it is not a new rule alone. It is seeking help from the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), which is quite disturbing because this organization is more or less run by the airline industry.

The transportation industry always complains at the beginning when there are new rules, claiming that they are cost too high. But after a while, we see more innovations than was present before. Electric cars and plug-in hybrids probably wouldn’t be developing at this rate if fuel economy standards weren’t on a fairly steep ramp over the coming years, and if emission regulations weren’t being tightened.

Right now, planes represent about 11% of emissions from the U.S. transportation sectors, but the industry is expected to continue growing. And while there’s a clear path for ground transportation to decarbonize, things are more difficult for planes, so it’s best to get regulated right now. One possible destination for the industry would be much more efficient planes that are powered by truly carbon-neutral advanced biofuels.


Harmful Emissions From The Ships


Today ships are responsible for 13 percent of diesel emissions worldwide. Until 2050 this number could even triple, says a current study of the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT). The situation in the Arctic is especially dramatic. It is expected that the emissions from ships in arctic waters will be six fold until 2025 and accelerate the melting of the ice.


The expected rise in emissions would eliminate much of the effort achieved on land so far. While exhaust fumes from cars, trucks and power plants are filtered, the shipping industry is incredibly excused from anti-pollution. To make things worse, even if the emissions happen in the air on the high seas – it can be blown several hundred kilometres inland. Just in Europe air pollution from ships causes about 50.000 premature deaths.


There are still solutions. The ICCT study estimates that emissions could be reduced by 70 percent with the currently available measures – and that’s even a conservative estimation. If all ships would use soot particle filters, 99,9 percent of soot could be filtered from the fumes. The use of marine diesel with a better quality and effective exhaust gas emission systems needs to become compulsory for all ships.