Can Natural Gas Reduce Emissions from Transport? [GGP]
Emissions in the transport sector are an increasingly important issue in global energy systems. This includes both greenhouse gases (GHGs) and air pollutants (including oxides of nitrogen (NOx) oxides of sulphur (SOx) and particulate matter (PM).
However, the progress on reducing greenhouse emissions from transport has been relatively slow, with emissions from shipping proving to be particularly challenging. Local air pollutants from vehicles, such as nitrogen oxides, sulphur oxides and particulates, are also a growing concern for human health.
Natural gas has been suggested as an alternative transport fuel to help combat these emissions, particularly in shipping and goods transportation due to the range requirements in these vehicle types. However, there is some disagreement as to the potential for natural gas to provide significant improvements over emissions emerging from the current transport system.
White Paper 4 explores the emissions of greenhouse gas emissions and air pollutants arising in both heavy goods vehicles and shipping, and has accessed the scope for natural gas to reduce these emissions from current levels.
Progress on reducing greenhouse gas emissions from transport has been relatively slow, with goods transportation and shipping emissions being particularly difficult to address. Local air pollutants arising from vehicles, such as nitrogen oxides, sulphur oxides and particulates, are also a significant concern for human health. Natural gas is an alternative transport fuel which may help reduce these emissions, particularly in shipping and long distance heavy goods transportation. However, there is some disagreement regarding the potential for natural gas to provide significant improvements relative to current transport systems.
Global traffic of trucks and ships represents a significant proportion of transport emissions, with road freight representing 7% of global energy related CO2 emissions and shipping representing 2.6% of global emissions in 2015. These emissions are also expected to grow, with some estimates suggesting road freight emission growing by a third, and shipping emissions growing by between 50% and 250% by 2050, largely though increased demand for movement of goods. Decarbonising goods transportation has proved difficult relative to other forms of transport given the relatively long distances that shipsand trucks travel.
Trucks and ships also contribute significantly to air pollution, through emission of pollutants such as sulphur oxides (SOx), nitrogen oxides (NOx), hydrocarbons and particulate matter. For example, road freight contributes approximately 17% of global NOx emissions, and shipping contributes approximately 13% of global NOx emissions and 12% of global SOx emissions. These pollutants have a known impact on human health, including impacts on lung, heart and brain health. Natural gas has the potential to reduce these air pollution emissions, though as with CO2 there is debate as to the potential of that reduction.
The aim of this white paper is to examine the evidence surrounding the use of natural gas as a transport fuel to address greenhouse gas and air pollution emissions in trucks and ships. This includes presenting the evidence on gas engine types, their emissions, technical considerations and costs. The report also discusses other options for emissions mitigation in transport including energy efficiency, after-treatment and other fuel-switching options such as hydrogen fuel cells or battery electric systems.
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