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ILT: Nitrogen maritime shipping emissions not declining despite tighter regulations

Nitrogen oxide emissions in maritime shipping continue to be a pressing concern, according to the Human Environment and Transport Inspectorate (ILT) in the Netherlands.

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The ILT says that despite the introduction of stricter emission requirements for new seagoing vessels, the anticipated reduction in emissions has not materialised.

The result of this ongoing air pollution, writes the ILT, is significant health problems and environmental degradation caused by nitrogen deposits on water and land.

The conclusions made by the ILT come from the data it acquired through the European SCIPPER project, which sees seven countries, including the Netherlands, share information on nitrogen emissions from individual ships, collected using drones, aircraft, and fixed stations.

Additionally, the ILT says it is pioneering efforts to measure nitrogen emissions from individual ships via satellite technology.

Despite these collaborative efforts and advanced research, the ILT has voiced concerns over the persistently high levels of nitrogen emissions in maritime shipping.

The intention behind numerous news regulations was to curb emissions from ships, yet the data indicates otherwise. High emissions at low sailing speeds are particularly problematic.

To address the issue, the ILTS proposes that new ships be equipped to automatically measure and store emission data, necessitating amendments to existing legislation and regulations.

The ILT’s growing concerns led to a formal alert to the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management in 2023. This prompted the ministry to commission additional research by TNO, which corroborated the ILT’s findings within a European context.

Jasper van Vliet, Chief Data Scientist at the ILT, emphasised the significance of the new satellite-based measurement methods, stating:

“We see that we can measure emissions surprisingly accurately at the level of an individual ship. This means for the future that we can measure emissions from ships worldwide and use those results to inspect those ships where the measurements are higher than expected.”