Polluting ships have been doing the climate a favour

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réchauffement climatique ; transport maritime ; dioxyde de soufre

Porte-conteneurs dans le port d’Hambourg. JUIN 2009. ALLEMAGNE © AFP PHOTO DDP/ROLAND MAGUNIA GERMANY OUT

ENVIRONMENTAL paradoxes don’t come much bigger. In July this year, the world’s shipping lines will begin to apply pollution-cutting rules that will save tens of thousands of lives a year. Yet these very measures – which will radically cut sulphur emissions from ships – have a downside: they will also increase global warming.

When it meets next week, the Marine Environment Protection Committee of the International Maritime Organization (IMO), the UN body that regulates world shipping, will not even be discussing setting limits on regulating the carbon emissions of shipping. Yet it will confirm plans to slash the permitted sulphur content of fuel oil burned by most of the world’s ships. Sulphur dioxide (SO2) emissions will diminish by as much as 90 per cent, and with them the resulting haze of sulphate particles.

The New Scientist

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