Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc.

Grants

$450,000 for 2 years

Awarded: March 12, 2015

Program Goal: Advance Healthy and Low-Carbon Development: Evidence-Based Policies, Mitigate Environmental Pollution and its Impact on Human Health (revised 2015), Advance Solutions to Climate Change (revised 2015)

For its efforts to curb emissions from ports and shipping.

$35,000 for 2 years

Awarded: December 9, 2014

Program Goal: Advance Solutions to Climate Change: Public and Policymaker Awareness of Climate Change

For its Board Members of Color and Indigenous People of Environment and Conservation Organizations Project.

$25,000 for 1 year

Awarded: March 22, 2010

Program Goal: Advance Solutions to Climate Change: Clean Energy Economy, Other

For its Green Light New York, Inc. project.

$20,000 for 1 year

Awarded: June 11, 2009

Program Goal: Other

For the Moving Cooler project.

$50,000 for 1 year

Awarded: June 9, 2004

Program Goal: Protect Ecosystems and Biodiversity (ended 2010)

For its efforts to monitor the Sustainable Forest Initiative's standard setting.

About the Grantee

  • The Port of Shenzen in Guangdong province is one of the world's fastest growing and busiest ports. It handles a variety of transportation types including ships, trucks, and cargo handling equipment. (Photo cc-by Chris.)

Dirty diesel is at the heart of port pollution and public health problems across the world. The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) has been a pioneer in reducing pollution related to shipping and ports in the United States. It coordinated the U.S. government, the private sector, and members of the International Maritime Organization to create an Emissions Control Area that requires cleaner, lower-sulfur marine fuels. This initiative is expected to reduce particulate pollution from ships at U.S. ports and off U.S. coasts by more than 85 percent by 2020. Since 2013, NRDC has also been working in China to reduce emissions from ports and shipping throughout the country with partners including Civic Exchange and Clean Air Initiative for Asian Cities.

Particulate matter emissions follow global shipping lanes, where the emissions from trucks, locomotives, cargo-handling equipment, and ships contribute to increased rates of asthma, cancers, heart attacks, and premature deaths, especially in the communities that are closest to ports and related activities. Diesel particles are particularly toxic and have been found to be carcinogenic by the World Health Organization. Beyond particulate soot emissions, nitrogen oxide emissions from diesel engines increase regional ozone levels, threatening the health and environment of entire regions. The effects are also global—these engines emit large quantities of black carbon, a short-lived climate pollutant that is accelerating glacial and polar ice melting. Consequently, emissions from these engines add to the impacts of climate change and drinking water scarcity.

NRDC’s 2014 white paper, The Prevention and Control of Shipping and Port Emissions in China, generated extensive coverage in both Chinese and western media, bringing increased public and government awareness to the issue of port and shipping-related air pollution. In a short span of time, NRDC and its partners have had an impact on China’s policymakers. In 2015, China adopted significant revisions to its 15-year-old Air Pollution Prevention and Control Law, including amendments signaling a huge breakthrough in mitigating air pollution from shipping and port-related activities. Research and technical assistance from the Natural Resources Defense Council’s Ports Project informed the Ministry of Transport’s detailed Marine Pollution Prevention and Control Implementation Plan, the first concrete action from the central government to address air pollution emissions from ships and ports’ activities. The Plan also includes NRDC’s top objective: defining specific “emission control areas” for ships traveling along China’s coastal waters.