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Understanding Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Selective Catalytic Reduction, and Why Carbon Offsetting is Crucial

a view from a superyacht at sea

Understanding greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions can be a challenge, especially when it comes to addressing the carbon footprint of your superyacht. At Yacht Carbon Offset, we are dedicated to guiding you through this intricate landscape.

Recently, Captain Sam Colling of M/Y KENSHŌ raised an important question: “We have a selective catalytic reduction (SCR) exhaust gas cleaning system on our engines. How does this affect our emission output?”

We were delighted to respond to this crucial inquiry and to shed light on why carbon offsetting remains essential, even when utilising an SCR system. We thought it might be helpful to share our knowhow with the wider superyacht community as well, along with some key information about GHGs and how they are measured. Read below to learn more.

Greenhouse Gases: A Brief Overview

GHGs are any gases that absorb the infrared radiation emitted from the Earth’s surface, trapping heat within the atmosphere. This trapped heat contributes to global warming, often referred to as the greenhouse effect. Here’s a brief overview of these gases:

  • CO2 (Carbon Dioxide): The most prevalent GHG, primarily originating from the combustion of fossil fuels;
  • CH4 (Methane): Emitted from a variety of human-influenced and natural sources, including landfills, oil and natural gas systems, agricultural activities, coal mining, fuel combustion, wastewater treatment, and certain industrial processes;
  • N2O (Nitrous Oxide): One of three Nitrogen Oxide (NOx) gases, formed when fuel is burned at high temperatures;
  • O3 (Surface-level Ozone): An indirect GHG that contributes to the greenhouse effect;
  • Fluorinated Gases: Synthetic gases used in industrial applications, with a high global warming potential.

SCR Systems: The Indispensable Role of Carbon Offsetting

While SCR systems are commendable tools for mitigating harmful NOx emissions, it’s vital to understand their selectivity. These systems specifically target NOx gases, leaving other GHGs largely unaddressed. Undoubtedly, SCR systems play a positive role in environmental conservation by reducing NOx emissions. However, they do not effectively combat CO2 emissions. This deficiency underscores the critical importance of carbon offsetting as a complementary practice, bridging the gap left by SCR systems by addressing the unmitigated CO2 emissions. In essence, carbon offsetting is not merely an option; it’s a non-negotiable aspect of responsible and sustainable yachting.

Measuring and Offsetting Unavoidable GHG Emissions

Emission factors (EFs) serve as coefficients that quantify the amount of GHGs that a specific source emits into the atmosphere. GHG emissions are measured by the standardised unit of “CO2 equivalent” (CO2e), facilitating a comprehensive comparison of a source’s global warming potential. EFs vary among different fuel types and are established by esteemed scientific bodies such as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

Yacht Carbon Offset uses EFs to measure the emissions associated with a superyacht’s activity and to quantify in CO2e units. Subsequently, we counterbalance the measured emissions, tonne-for-tonne, by procuring and retiring carbon offset credits issued by verified carbon reduction projects. The financial support of the carbon credit mechanism is crucial to the selected projects, without which these projects would not come to fruition. The projects also positively impact the local communities.

Embracing Responsibility for a Greener Superyacht Community

Understanding and managing GHG emissions from superyachts require consideration of the full spectrum of emitted gases. While technologies like SCR systems are invaluable, they are not a one-size-fits-all solution. Captain Sam Colling’s question underscores a pivotal aspect of responsible yachting: taking proactive measures to offset carbon emissions is as crucial as employing advanced emission-reduction technologies.

At Yacht Carbon Offset, we are committed to assisting the superyacht community in understanding greenhouse gas emissions and carbon offsetting. If you have any questions or need clarification on how to make your yachting experience more eco-friendly, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us. Let’s sail together towards a greener, cleaner future!

To find out more about our carbon offset service and how you can begin offsetting your superyacht’s carbon with our simple five-step approach, click here.

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