Tuesday, 01 December 2020 15:49

EnviSum strengthen knowledge on reduced emissions from the shipping industry

Written by  Henrik Jarholm

As one of the key stakeholders in a broad research collaboration, the Norwegian Meteorological Institute has documented important improvements regarding health and environment, resulting from reduced emissions in the Baltic Sea.

Sustainable shipping is a major concern by many. Until now, the societal benefits from reduced emissions in the shipping industry has been limited.

The EnviSum project took the challenge. The overall goal has been to strengthen the knowledge base from reduced emissions, in order to develop necessary tools to assess health-, economic-, and environmental effects from a cleaner shipping industry. This in turn will make the industry even more equipped to meet future and stricter emission requirements.

– When we started on this project, we wanted to study the effects on emissions from ship to air, while documenting a possible change in air quality due to new requirements, says Jan Eiof Jonson, researcher at the Norwegian Meteorological Institute.

EnviSum is part of the Interreg Baltic Sea Program and consists of partners from Norway, Sweden, Finland, Germany, Estonia, and Poland.


Jan Eiof Jonsen. Photo: Norwegian Meteorological Institute


Facing new emission requirements

In January 2015, the level of sulfur allowed in fuel, was changed from 1. percent to 0.1 percent in the Baltic Sea, as well as the North Sea. This year, the level was changed on a global scale. Now, it is not allowed to sail anywhere with more than 0.5 percent.  In 2021, stricter emission requirements will be implemented on the NOx level in the Baltic Sea and the North Sea. However, this only applies for new vessels.

– Particles derived from sulfur and NOx in the atmosphere, may lead to negative health effects. From an environmental perspective, higher levels of sulfur contribute to acid rain. NOx can also lead to over fertilization in the agricultural sector, Jonson explains.

Ships are still able to use fuel with high levels of sulfur, in combination with purification technology, or with alternative fuels such as LNG (Liquified Natural Gas).


Better knowledge leads to better decisions

Cooperation across countries and industrial sectors, is necessary to make effective and knowledge-based decisions. However, decision-makers often lack the necessary information on future regulations. The shipping industry are also in need for insight to be one step ahead, and to make the right investments. 

– The Norwegian Meteorological Institute has collected substantial information on emissions in the Baltic Sea and other sea areas. In combination with weather data and a model on the turnover of chemical substances in the atmosphere, the changes in spread of air pollution (including particles), has been calculated. Both before and after the emission requirement was tightened in 2015, Jonson elaborates.  


Improved air quality

According to the project, as much as 90 percent of ships in the Baltic Sea comply with the new requirements. The Norwegian Meteorological Institute has proven a substantial decrease of sulfur in air, not just in the Baltic Sea, but also on a larger scale.

– As of today, most particles derive from the NOx-gases. But we expect to see some decrease on this level too, due to new regulations in 2021, Jonson explains.


Groundbreaking work

The Norwegian research results have been published in the well renowned journal ACP (Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics). The same data material has been used to calculate health benefits. This work was published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. According to Jonson, another scientific article that calculates environmental effects is on its way.

In addition, the results have proven useful for calculating local health benefits in cities like Gothenburg, Tri City (Gdansk, Gdynia, and Sopot in Poland), and St. Petersburg.


A shared strategy for clean marine ecosystems

11 years ago, the EU Baltic Sea Strategy (EUSBSR) was established as the first macro region in the EU. Ten countries take part in the strategy that channels common challenges and opportunities in the region. The EnviSum project holds status as a flagship project in the strategy.

One of the key priorities is a cleaner marine environment. The results from the EnviSum-project are also included in the Interreg project CSHIPP (Clean Shipping Project Platform). The purpose of this project is to gather and spread results from projects working on sustainable shipping.



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