Friday, January 23, 2009

#6 in CO2 Emissions: cruising the seas out of the spotlight

When we consider the impact of global warming and climate change on the land, air, and sea, we often think of the combined CO2 emissions generated by different nations and their various commercial and/or public sources. But do you know what ranks as the 6th highest producer of carbon dioxide, just behind the 5 nations with the largest combined output of all sources?

Global shipping.

That's right. Right near the top of the list of major CO2 polluters. And it continues unregulated by any U.S. or Kyoto Protocol limitations. Why? Well, for one, it's a bit removed from the public spotlight, cruising the seas as it were, underneath the radar of public awareness. And for another, the shipping industry is both a fragmented and powerful commercial force that requires major international intervention to bring it under control.

What is there to regulate? Engine types, fuels, proper operational maintenance, emission standards - in many ways, what we do (or should be doing) regarding auto or factory pollution can be applied to shipping.

If we in the United States can get the EPA on board, this can be a major first step not only for the U.S. but for the world as it can set a new standard, particularly if the United States seriously considers getting back in lock step with the rest of the industrialized or developing world and considers aligning itself with the Kyoto Protocol or its possible future manifestations.

To that end, Earth Justice, Oceana, Friends of the Earth, and the Center for Biological Diversity have petitioned the EPA and, due to a lack of response by the EPA, are preparing to take legal action. To learn more about this issue, click here.

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