COLOMBO (EconomyNext) - Sri Lanka is to monitor emissions from ships calling at Colombo port, extending an effort to improve air quality in the capital that introduced cleaner fuel and hybrid and electric vehicles.
However, no mandatory emission controls are envisaged yet as in north American and Europe, an official said.
"We'll decided what controls are needed once the emissions study is done," said Suren Batagoda, Secretary to the Ministry of Power & Energy.
The ship emissions study will be done by the Moratuwa University and the Air Resource Management Centre of the environment ministry, he said.
The study is to find out how bad pollution is from emissions from ships which burn low grade bunker fuel that contain up to 2,000 times the amount of sulphur compared to diesel fuel used in automobiles.
Exhaust smoke from big cargo ships, whose engines can be the size of mini-power plants, is one of the main causes of air pollution in port cities with international studies showing ship emissions can pollute the air far inland.
Germany's Federal Environmental Agency estimates up to 50,000 people are killed in Europe each year because of shipping missions.
North America has followed the European Union in introducing emission control areas this year where ships will have to burn clean, low-sulphur diesel to comply with the new regulations.
Batagoda, who last year won an international award for his work to improve air quality, said incentives and regulations could be introduced to get ships to burn cleaner fuels while in port or use shore-based power.
"If bunker fuel air pollution is significant we can get ships in port to stop burning furnace oil and run on electric power from a shore-based source as done in other countries," he said in an interview.
"That'll reduce missions."