B.C. Air Quality

Marine Emissions

Marine engines make a sizeable contribution to emissions of sulphur dioxide (SO2), particulate matter (PM2.5), and nitrogen oxides (NOx) on a provincewide basis. The contribution is even more significant when one considers that many of these emissions are concentrated in the busy ports of the Lower Mainland.

Marine engines use either marine diesel or marine heavy fuel oil. Both of these fuels have much higher sulphur contents than transportation fuels used on land. For ocean going ships visiting B.C., fuel sulphur contents typically fall in the range of 1 to 3% (this compares to 15 ppm or 0.0015% sulphur content for on-road diesel in Canada).

Marine Emissions Initiatives

A detailed emissions inventory for ocean going ships was conducted by the Chamber of Shipping of British Columbia in collaboration with Environment Canada, Metro Vancouver and the Vancouver Port Authority. This inventory found the contribution of shipping to air emissions was less than previously thought, though still significant.

To address diesel emissions and greenhouse gases from port operations, Port Metro Vancouver is participating with Seattle and Tacoma in the Northwest Ports Clean Air Strategy (NWCAS). The strategy aims to reduce emissions from ships in port as well as from port operations.

Regulators (including the B.C. Ministry of Environment) and marine stakeholders also participate in the B.C. Marine Vessel Air Quality Working Group to work toward further measures for reducing air emissions from the marine and shipping sector.

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