Reducing Harmful Aerosols and Resolving Global Warming: An Example of the Emission Control Area

Author: Haifeng Wang College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment University of Delaware


The reduction of conventional air pollutants such as SOx, NOx, and PM can be helpful to the environment and human health. However, due to their potential to cool the atmosphere, the reduction of such emissions may potentially intensify the global warming, creating a dilemma to policy makers. This paper uses the shipping Emission Control Area (ECA) as an example to quantify the net warming effects from reducing such emissions and discusses policy implications. The paper shows that from the perspective of harmful pollutant reductions, the ECA is a success. It reduces the SOx, NOx, and PM which endanger the environment and human health cost-effectively. Although it may result in a slight of warming effect in the short term, it will reduce the warming effect in the long term. The paper also illustrates that the reduction of harmful aerosols and global warming are two separate issues. The harmful aerosols should be reduced and the global warming can be resolved by applying existing technologies and operational strategies. The dilemma is a false statement. Future conventional pollutant reduction should be cited as a conflict with global warming reduction effort.


and sulfur dioxide (SOx). Arneth. 2008). 2000. 2009). whereas ozone and black carbon warm the planet (Hansen.2 °C at 2030. Unger et al. the warming effect of aerosols and ozone remain uncertain due to the sensitivity of climate and the uncertainty of atmospheric modeling. Jones et al. The mid. 2009). A variety of aerosols have cooling effects. Sato et al. The reduction of those aerosols may increase the temperature through sensitive climate interactions and carbon cycle feedbacks (Andreae. Introduction The important role played by aerosols and ozone in anthropogenic climate change has been gradually realized. Dentener et al. The reduction of the former type of aerosols may warm the environment.1. It has been shown that a maximum feasible reduction of short-lived aerosol emissions in the future may substantially warm the earth (Kloster.and high-latitude climate is more sensitive to the location of aerosol forcing than other parts of the world (Shindell and Faluvegi 2009). Their warming effect is almost as severe as the effect of Greenhouse Gases (GHGs) (Kloster. while some aerosols (such as Black Carbon) and ozone have warming effects. The black carbon and troposphere ozone have increased temperature in the Arctic of 1. In other words. 2005). there seems to have a dilemma: should we reduce emissions with cooling effects but unhealthy impacts to human beings or should we not 3 . A general consensus is that some aerosols do cool the earth such as sulfate. nitrogen dioxide (NOx). Dentener et al. respectively (Shindell and Faluvegi 2009).4 °C and 0. Most of the warming effects come from sulfur emission reductions in the industry and power generators. Yet. 2009). Andreae et al suggest that atmospheric aerosols can potentially reduce warming effects of anthropogenic GHGs. The Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) include a host of projections and details of future aerosols and ozone (Shindell. The Arctic is particularly sensitive. Levy et al.4 °C. The aerosol reduction can increase global mean temperature by 2.

5-7% of global SOx emission (Corbett and Köhler 2003). may intensify the global warming. and 1. 15 Mmt of SOx. 2009). including nitrogen 4 . 2009). and some answers to this dilemma. The reduction of those pollutants. policy makers are left to choose which global warming metric they plan to use. Corbett et al. and which pollutants they intend to consider. an example of the dilemma mentioned above. Oceangoing vessels contributed to about 25 million metric tons (Mmt) of NOx. 2009). NOx.reduce those emissions and buy time for effective carbon reductions? To answer these questions. The ECA will help to substantially reduce SOx. Nitrogen oxides (NOx). ships that approach their 200 nautical miles Exclusive Economic Zone have to burn cleaner fuel or use scrubbing technology. 2009). In particular. and Carbon Dioxide (CO2)(Wang. and PM from ships and health hazards to people living in coastal areas (IMO 2009). Under the ECA. SOx and NOx have cooling effects. The proposal of the ECA has attracted that other countries such as EU and Mexico. This paper is to use the ECA as an example to show the net effect from air pollution reduction. two gases with cooling effects. Corbett et al. Sulfur oxides (SOx). However. This is about 15-30% of global NOx emission. Particulate Matter (PM). 2. Background Marine shipping is one of the major sources of Nitrogen oxides (NOx). and 1046 mmt of CO2 in 2007 (Buhaug.3% of global CO2 emission (Buhaug. from ships and health hazards to people living in coastal areas (IMO 2009). A similar question is raised when the U.S. and 3. The proposal has been approved by the International Maritime Organization (IMO). Liu et al. the shipping SOx and NOx have even larger cooling impacts on the atmosphere (Fuglestvedt. NOx. The designation will help to reduce SOx. and Canada governments proposed the designation of the Emission Control Area (ECA). the implications to policy makers. Shine et al.8 mmt of PM. which timeline they want to focus on. therefore.

including sulfur dioxide (SO2) and sulfur trioxide (SO3). data. 2009). The remainder of this paper is structured as follows. including sulfate. a reduction of 12-14% is expected due to the replacement of pre-regulation (Tier I) engines. However. and black carbon. A net warming effect has been forecasted due to the reduction of pollutants with cooling effects in 2050. are major contributors to acid rain. Liu et al. In other words. the top regulatory body of the international shipping industry.monoxide (NO) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2) emissions. leading to the over-fertilization of lakes as well as to the formation of smog. especially to people living near coastal areas. The sulfur emission will be reduced by 42% due to the existing and proposed sulfur emission control areas. Sulfur oxides (SOX). Should we reduce ship-based conventional pollutants due to their potential to cool the environment? Do we have methods to avoid such a dilemma? This paper attempts to answer these questions. and some basic assumptions for this paper. the CO2 will grow by 150% by 2050 because of the more frequent international trade. the reduction of harmful pollutants seems to be conflicting with the reduction of global warming. Section 3 presents the methodology. water. lead to acid rain and have detrimental effects on vegetation and human health (Wang. Ship emissions are projected to grow unevenly for different pollutants. The reduction of NOx and SOx are mainly attributed to regulations on ship engine and fuel sulfur contents issued by the International Maritime Organization (IMO). is also harmful to lung. Section 4 introduces the proposed ECA. 2009). revisits 5 . Although NOx have grown 35% between 2000 and 2007. creating a dilemma that scientists are only beginning to answer. CO2 is the major GHG leading to global warming and has become one of top agendas in international shipping industry. PM. the air emissions from ships contribute to a net cooling effect to the global environment (Eyring. Isaksen et al. although before 2050.

Data. Metrics such as the Global Warming Potential (GWP) or the Global Temperature change Potential (GTP. The relative effectiveness of reducing emissions of different greenhouse gases and therefore at 6 .1 Methodology. Stuber. of a unit emission of a radiatively active species compared to that of CO2. Forward-looking metrics are used for formulation of policy and for assigning CO2-equivalent (CO2-e) emissions. Bernsten et al. One of the most used concepts to investigate potential climate change impacts of air pollutant is the radiative forcing (RF) (IPCC 2001). 3. and Assumption Methodology: Global Warming Potential and Global Temperature Change Potential To quantify the effects of various air pollutants. The key assumptions for using RF are that the global mean forcing is related to the equilibrium global mean surface temperature change and that the climate sensitivity can be considered to be constant and independent of the forcing applied for homogeneously distributed forcing (Hansen. (Shine. 2001). and discusses the result in a policy context. In the policy context. 2005)) examine the marginal impacts. Such a value of RF cannot fully illustrate what would happen in the future to the global warming as a result of emissions. 3. The GWP for a gas is the ratio of the cumulative. Ponater et al. GWPs have become the de facto standard for estimating. Section 5 is devoted to provide some concluding remarks and make some policy recommendations based on results. some metrics have to be determined beforehand. Sato et al.chemical reactions of pollutants in the atmosphere. 2000. globally-averaged RF over a specified time horizon produced by a unit-mass emissions impulse of that gas to that due to a unit-mass impulse of carbon dioxide (Smith and Wigley 2000). at some point in the future. calculates the net warming/cooling effects based on various scenarios.

Shine et al.the center to evaluate approaches to GHG mitigation (IPCC 1995. Steveson et al.i  Ei  GW h . U. Therefore. Therefore it provides a different perspective to evaluate the relative importance of emissions of different species and how it changes over time (Fuglestvedt. the GWP and GTP are used to evaluate the warming effects of reduced pollutants in the ECA.t.i is the cooling effects of emission i in time t. they have to be converted to CO2 equivalents to describe how much global warming a given amount and type of GHG may cause. 3. GCh. E is the total reduction of emission type i. Its effect lasts hundreds of years without too much decaying. The Appendix A also shows the warming potential of different aerosols under various time horizons. In this paper. Most pollutants are potent in a relatively short time line. The GWT and GTP used for different emissions are shown in the Appendix A. 2000).i is the warming effects of emission i in time t.S. CO2 is a notable exception.2 Data 7 .t.t . GWh. 2009).t . They are not directly comparable. Bernsten et al. 2008). The net warming effects of the ECA can be shown in the Equation 1: Wt  GC h .i  Ei (1) h=GWT if h=1 h=GTP if h=2 Where Wt is the net warming effect in time t. 2005). The calculation is straightforward. The GWP and GTP are estimated and reported by different literature with widely different ranges. It is also further down the cause and effect chain from emissions to impacts (Derwent. The attraction of GTP is that it requires essentially the same inputs as the GWP but reflects the response of the global-mean surface temperature (Shine.

and lower potential for the warming effects. Corbett et al. The SOx.3 Assumption This paper is based on a number of assumptions which are supported by previous literature. The composition of the PM is from Lack et al (Lack. Endresen. 2002. 2008. 2007. and three shows the average. Two timelines are focused: a 20-year and a 100-year horizon. 2009). 3. Steveson et al. Three scenarios are calculated. Derwent et al. 2009). Derwent et al.5 -35 to -30 -5.The data used in this paper are all from published literature. PM. Fuglestvedt. Table 1 GWP and GTP Metrics (All SOx values are on a per kg S basis. 2008. two. and CO2 reductions from the ECA are from the technical reports of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Derwent. the means of different estimates are taken from various literature. Eyring. and upper estimates of GWP and GTP for the reduced emissions are based on the values in Table 1 (Collins. Eyring. 8 . NOx. Corbett et al. respectively (Collins. In other words. the upper and lower bounds of these estimates are taken. In the first scenario. The lower. 2009). Steveson et al. In the second and third scenarios. Soergaard et al. 2002. 2003. Derwent.7 64 -10 1 Table 1 shows the estimates of the GWP and the GTP for different aerosols. Shine et al. Corbett et al. respectively. NOx values are on a per kg N basis.1 to -1. median. upper. scenario one. Shine et al. Endresen. Fuglestvedt. and OC are on organic carbon basis) GWP H=20 SOx NOx Sulfate BC OC CO2 -150 to -120 -76 to -31 -140 1600 -240 1 H=100 -43 to -11 -36 to -25 -40 460 -69 1 H=20 -44 to -11 -190 to -130 -41 470 -71 1 GTP H=100 -6. 2007. 2003. Soergaard et al.

In fact.First. KIRKEVÅG. Iversen et al. climate sensitivity is constant and independent of the RF applied for homogeneously distributed forcing. Although this assumption is not necessarily true for the inhomogeneous NOx and PM are detrimental to 9 . Third. the emission control area can be considered homogeneous due to the limited areas and relatively simple atmosphere (Figure 1). This assumption is valid when the forcings are independent of each other and dependent on climate conditions. the SOx. Figure 1 The geographical scope of the proposed emission control area (Source: http://www. the reduction of CO2 is the only standard to evaluate the policy. Such an almost additive relationship has been approved by general circulation model (Gillett.epa. 2004. Therefore the mean RF is a good predictor of the change in the annual global mean surface temperature. 2008). Wehner et al. the RF is additive and linear. although the reduction of CO2 is challenging to human society.htm) Second.

As an alternative to using low sulfur fuel. the U. 2009.human health and harmful to the environment. Engines on vessels constructed in 2016 and later would need to comply with the Annex VI Tier 3 NOx limits.000 ppm (1% sulfur content). on a mass basis. and PM by 90000 ton. the requirement would be reduced to 1. The cost to reduce a ton of NOx. in 2015.S. These NOx limits are expected to necessitate the use of after-treatment technology. and PM from ships and health hazards to people living in coastal areas (IMO 2009). NOx. The designation will help to reduce SOx. The ECA is projected to reduce CO2 by 2. Based on the estimate of the EPA. and Canadian governments submitted a proposal to amend MARPOL Annex VI to designate North American coastal waters as an ECA. such as selective catalytic reduction (SCR). The Net Warming Effects from Emission Reductions in the Emission Control Area 4. Not only substantial emissions are reduced. when operating in an ECA. which. Therefore the fuel switch can result in a reduction of CO2 (Entec UK limited 2002). NOx by 320000 ton. ships have to use distillate fuel. Under the regulation in ECA.1% sulfur).000 ppm (0. Reducing them is necessary.400. Those measures are expected to reduce SOx by 920000 ton. which can reduce NOx emissions to harmless substances. they are reduced more cost-effectively.1 Emissions Reduction in the Emission Control Area On March 27. ship operators may choose to use the scrubber to extract sulfur from the exhaust. has higher energy content than fuel oils used by most ships currently. 4. The multidimensional policy consideration would be discussed in the section 4. Ships operating in the ECA would be required to use low-sulfur fuel with a sulfur content no more than 10.4.17 million tons of CO2 by 2020 (EPA 2009). 10 . SOx and PM is estimated at $2.

$1. is formed by SO2 and SO3 and thus can contribute to global cooling effects. This section briefly discusses the major chemical reactions of aerosols in the atmosphere which contributes to the global cooling. Ships are the major contributor of NOx in the high sea where the environment is relatively cleaner.2 Warming Effects of Aerosol Reduction The emission of NOx and SOx can contribute to net cooling effects to the global environment. Therefore the production of ozone from shipping NOx is much more efficient (Fuglestvedt. 2009). exceeding 11. NOx can increase the OH radical. Shine et al.300/ ton for NOx and $15. Comparatively. the 2007 heavy-duty highway truck rule issued by the EPA costs $2.000 $ per ton for NOx. reducing globally averaged net radiation at the top of the atmosphere.000/ ton for PM (IMO 2009).000. one component of PM. R1: NO + HO2 = NO2+OH R2: NO2 + hv = NO + O R3: O+ O2 + M = O3 + M SOx contribute to the cooling effect mainly due to the reaction from R4 to R6.3 Net Warming Effect of Emission Control Area: A Quantitative Analysis 11 . The sulfate in the PM has similar chemical reaction. two types of potent global warming gases. reflecting and absorbing incoming solar energy. respectively. 4. The production of OH from NOx is to react with HO2 (R1) or generate O3 (R2). The aerosols from H2SO4 and H2O increase the optical depth of the atmosphere. which removes methane and hydrocarbons. The sulfate. R4: SO2+ OH+M=HSO-3+ M R5: HSO-3+ O2=HO2+ SO3 R6: SO3+ H2O+M=H2SO4 4.100 and $10. The heavy-duty truck rule in EU is even more expensive.

The total emission reductions from the ECA is reported in Table 2 Table 2 Emission reductions from the ECA Types of Emissions SOx NOx CO2 SO4 Organic Carbon Black Carbon Emission Reductions (ton) 920000 320000 2200000 41400 35100 13500 To compute the total GWP and GTP of sulfate (S) and nitrogen (N). In the second and third scenarios. 2009). 2009. Corbett et al. Constant to other literatures (EPA 2009. SO4 and OM mass are dependent on fuel sulfur content and BC mass is dependent on engine type and combustion efficiency. Corbett et al. the PM contains 46% of SO4. Sax and Alexis 2007. the aerosols have to be determined first. 39% of OM. The first scenario includes the computation that uses the mean of different estimates in Table 1. respectively.To quantify the net effect of emission reduction. EPA 2009. In the same way. and 15% of BC for fuel with 0. The composition of PM is difficult to determine. Eyring. one ton of NOx contains about 0. 2009.1% sulfur. EPA 2009. The estimation in Lack et al (Lack. Corbett et al. 2009). This is related to the composition of different emissions. Scenario Two approaches the upper bound of cooling effect and the Scenario Three approaches the upper bound of warming 12 . All NOx is assumed to be NO2. SOx is assumed to contain 98% of SO2 and 2% of SO4. Winebrake. There are a few of estimations of the PM from ships (Endresen. the upper and lower bounds of Table 1 are applied. Eyring. 2009) is used. 2007. One ton of SOx contains about 0. Based on the field observation from Lack et al. Corbett et al. 2003. Buhaug.50 ton of S. Corbett et al. Lack. Sørga°rd et al.304 ton of N. Isaksen et al. Three scenarios are included in this paper. the SOx and NOx have to be converted to S and N. Therefore.

623 H=100 -12.932.700.684.823 H=100 -5.015. Table 3 CO2 equivalent emissions (in ton (CO2)/year for various metrics) using the Mean Estimates GWP SOx NOx SO4 OM BC CO2 Total H=20 -62.719.060.000 -11. Two timelines are used to facilitate the comparisons of different matrix: a 20-year and a 100-year horizon.480 -1.929 6.000 -2. In 100-year horizon under Scenario Two and Three.000 -403.985.000 69.000 -50.000 -12.000 -6.420.600. The 20-year horizon is defined as the short period.345.000 -1.800 6.010 -1.000 6. from the perspective of climate change.017.881 GTP H=100 -2.170.000 -250.000 -8.780.492.000 -11.000 -7.000.020. For the 100-year horizon.080 -551. respectively.000 -3.100 2.000 -500.507.000 2.effect.932.934.700. the 100-year horizon is defined as the long period.000 -3.994 -1. Table 4 and Table 5 show the GWP and GTP in Scenario Two and Three.700.003 H=20 -18.800 -516.714 2.400 -565. the GTP shows net cooling effects and the GWP shows net warming effects.000 21.100.680 -1.714 864.726.106 13 .000 -15.729.000 1.200 -235.345.210.984.017.729.992 -235.000 -6.210.000 2.929 H=20 -5.314 In a similar method to Table 3.600.000 2.000 -1.646.564.000 2.143 2.535.700.204.980 -250. both GWP and GTP show net warming effects due to the designation of the ECA. the GTP shows net cooling effects. Table 3 shows the GWP and GTP in Scenario One.000 -26.980 864.929 2.000 -5.700.953.700. It illustrates that for a 20-year horizon.700. Table 4 CO2 equivalent emissions (in ton (CO2)/year for various metrics) using the Upper Bound GWP SOx Nox SO4 BC OC CO2 Total H=20 -17.060.143 21.700. Using the data from Table 1 and 2 and applying the Equation 1.000 -5.071 6.656. Both GWP and GTP show net warming effects in Scenario Three.300 GTP H=100 -690.

the designation of the ECA would have a net warming effect for both the short and long periods for all scenarios. The reduction of black carbon and CO2 can substantially reduce the warming effects and even have cooling effects in the long term.282 H=20 -20. using the GWP.700.017.282 GTP H=100 -2.000.000 -1.200 -78.700.000 -3.000 -551.806.000 -403.000 2.600.700.000 -16. Therefore. the ECA would have a net warming effect for the 20-year time horizon in all scenarios. 4.780. The reduction of the warming effect and long run net cooling effect from the ECA are mainly due to the reduction of CO2.660 864.000 -7.210 6.400. 14 .430. and Equity Table 3 and Table 4 show the net warming/cooling effect depends on which metric policy makers would choose and how long the time horizon policy makers would consider.141 H=100 -19.994 6.000 -74.860 In summary.Table 5 CO2 equivalent emissions (in ton (CO2)/year for various metrics) using the Lower Bound GWP SOx Nox SO4 BC OC CO2 Total H=20 -69.945.780.240.000 -1. policy makers may choose a longer time horizon to evaluate their policy. but have a net cooling effect for the 100-year time horizon in Scenario One and Two.071 2.360. Conventional Air Pollutants.845.998 21.000 -2.143 2.296.931.000 -6.000 -351.4 Discussion: Global Warming. both the reduction of harmful pollutants and the mitigation of GHGs (long time horizon) are achieved. In fact the mitigation of other pollutants generally requires more energy.000 -95.700. Because the CO2 would be in the atmosphere for hundreds of years and global warming has multi-decadal effect. In the case of the ECA.288 2.345.000 -59. the emission reductions in the ECA are not necessarily causing warming effects.000 -23.210. Using the GTP.000 -13. which may be not common to other conventional pollutant reduction programs.

this dilemma can be overcome at least from two perspectives: harmful air pollutants should be reduced and global warming can be resolved from other means. Buhaug et al (2009) show a 20% CO2 reduction. animal toxicology. For example. Not to reduce these pollutants contradicts the original purpose to combat the global warming: protecting the welfare of the human beings.which may exacerbate the global warming. 2009). technical. Therefore. It is particularly unfair to people living near pollution source since they already suffer from the poor air quality and will continue to suffer if nothing changes and.000 cardiopulmonary and lung cancer death in 2002 and the annual mortalities could increase by 40% by 2012 (Corbett. applying these technical and operational measures. 2007). NOx and PM to human health has been well-understood using epidemiology. the PM from ships is responsible for 60. and industrial know-how to solve the global warming problems for the next half-century (Pacala and Socolow 2004). However. Corbett et al. It is estimated that using current technical and operational strategies can reduce ship CO2 emissions by 25% -75%. Winebrake et al. and controlled human exposure studies (Folinsbee 1993). ships not only reduce CO2 emissions by 25% but also save 15 . The IPCC has also claimed that “technologies that exist in operation or pilot stage today” are sufficient to follow a less-than-doubling trajectory “over the next hundred years or more” (IPCC 2001). In other words. more often than not. The more important point is that human beings have already possessed the fundamental scientific. The damage of SOx. the pollution intensifies. It is hard to reconcile the two policy goals. The argument that conventional air pollutants should not be reduced due to their global cooling effects is against the equity principle. Back to the example of the shipping industry. or 250 mmt CO2 mitigation can be achieved by applying existing technologies and operational measures whose marginal abatement costs are negative (Buhaug. the dilemma mentioned in the section one seems to be common.

therefore. reducing global warming does not prohibit reducing aerosols that are harmful to environment but can potentially cool the environment. These problems can be resolved by proper institutional arrangement. This is enough to offset the net warming effects even in the worst scenario (Scenario Three in Table 5). reducing harmful pollutants and global warming can be achieved together. On the other hand. the policy target they intend to pursue. This aim can be achieved. a net cooling effect is expected because of the reduction of CO2 and black carbon. Harmful 16 . and. Conclusion The net warming effects from the reduction of harmful aerosols have attracted increasing attention. human beings have already had technologies to reduce global warming. split profits (parties that pay for technical and operational measures do not harvest the profit). and PM. the time horizon they want to consider. NOx. Cerup-Simonsen et al. Shipping companies also recognize the needs to reduce GHGs (Kat. Scientific consensus has been reached that harmful pollutants should be reduced to decrease risk to the environment and human health. 5. This paper shows that in the case of the ECA. presents a net warming effect. In other words. ECA does not present a conflict between reducing harmful pollutants and reducing global warming. in the short term. the reduction of SOx. In the long run. In the case of ECA. Policy makers have identified a host of measures to incentivize shipping companies to increase fuel efficiency and reduce GHG.cost. The net warming effect is not that serious and in the long run. the primary policy focus is on the mitigation of harmful aerosols. evaluating the net effect of air pollution reduction policy rests on a conscious use of the metrics for policymakers. and low priorities to reduce CO2 (CE Delft 2009). The reasons ships have not used them are due to imperfect information. the net effect is cooling. 2009). above all. Therefore.

pollutants should be mitigated and global warming can be resolved at the same time. Therefore. 17 . the dilemma mentioned in the first section is a false statement. Policy makers should continue to focus on the reduction of conventional pollutants. which should be cited as a conflict with reducing global warming.

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20 .

2002.1 322 H=100 1 1.6 140 0.5 12 77 1.50 289 GWP H=100 1 4. they are not directly comparable.4 265 21 .Appendix Table 6 shows the GWP and GTP coefficients for GHG from ships. 2009).6 303 GTP H=50 1 4.4 7. Since GWP and GTP use different methodologies.77 153 H=20 1 14 57 470 4.5 25 460 2. 2008 and Fuglestvedt et al. The number is from selective literatures (Collins et al.53 298 H=500 1 1. Derwent et al. Table 6 GTP and GWP of some GHG GHGs CO2 VOC CH4 BC CO N2O H=20 1 14 72 1600 7.4 4 64 0.