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Maritime Intermezzo


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Do what is necessary first and then what is possible; the impossible will seem less daunting

Last week California leaders and lawmakers gathered to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Assembly Bill 32. The Bill established the state’s first emission's cap-and-trade program. The program allows companies to buy permits to pollute and sets a target for reducing emissions to 1990 levels by the year 2020.

In September Act Global Group reported that California's legislature, Democrats and Republicans, had extended the original Bill out to 2030 and set even more ambitious goals for green house gases (GHG) and particulate matter/black carbon (PM) reductions. The "new" Bill 32 accompanied by AB 197 is simple and sweeping. The Bill codifies the requirement to reduce GHG, heat trapping emissions, to 40% below 1990 levels by 2030.

California now has the most aggressive carbon reduction targets in North America and will impose stricter limits on emissions from factories, power plants and mobile sources - trucks, trains, ships and planes.

For responsible shipping the good news is that AB 197 refines California's climate change programs in two ways: greater legislative oversight and transparency in implementation and secondly the policies must address those communities most impacted by climate change and air pollution.

The bad news is the Bill goes into effect January 2017.

The marine industry didn't take much notice as California's move was overshadowed by the Finnish Government's announcement at SMM 2016 that they were ratifying the Ballast Water Treatment Convention (BWT) and thereby starting the countdown to the Convention's implementation date of September of 2017.

Short-Lived Climate Pollutants (SLCP).

Of particular interest to the Air Resource Boards will be Short-Lived Climate Pollutants (SLCP).

SLCP's relative potency, in terms of how they heat the atmosphere, can be tens, hundreds, or even thousands of times greater than that of CO2. The impacts of SLCPs are especially strong over the short term. Reducing these emissions can make an immediate beneficial impact on local communities - think ports, ship yards, airports.

Short-Lived Climate Pollutants include three main components:

Black carbon is a component of fine particulate matter, which has been identified as a leading environmental risk factor for premature death. It is produced from the incomplete combustion of fossil fuels and biomass burning, particularly from diesel engines. Diesel particulate matter emissions are a major source of black carbon and are also toxic air contaminants that have been regulated and controlled in California for several decades in order to protect public health.

Fluorinated gases (F-gases) are the fastest growing source of greenhouse gas emissions in California and globally. They include ozone-depleting substances that are being phased out globally under the Montreal Protocol, and their primary substitute, hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). Most F-gas emissions come from leaks of these gases in refrigeration and air-conditioning systems. Emissions also come from aerosol propellants, fire suppressants, and foam-expansion agents.

Methane (CH4) is the principal component of natural gas. Its emissions contribute to background ozone in the lower atmosphere (troposphere), which itself is a powerful greenhouse gas and contributes to ground level air pollution. The atmospheric concentration of methane is growing as a result of human activities in waste treatment, and oil and gas sectors.

California has e-framed the climate debate and is proving that a strong economy goes hand-in-hand with a healthy environment.

Shipping has less than three months to absorb, understand and adapt to the new aspects in the law. A good start is this link to the Air Resources Board

More on Ballast Water, the EPA, States and the USCG shortly.


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