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EU Introduces New Sulphur Emission Rules For Shipping

by Ulrika Lomas,, Brussels

19 December 2012

New environmental rules on marine fuels to substantially reduce air pollution entered into force in the European Union on December 17, 2012.

The rules have been developed to adhere to standards set by the International Maritime Organization on limiting the sulphur content of marine fuels. The framework will progressively reduce the maximum sulphur content of marine fuels used in European Union waters from the current 3.5% to 0.5% by January 2020.

The Commission explained that without this action, from 2020, sulphur emissions from shipping in EU seas would exceed those from all land-based sources. The legislation also includes special provisions for a lower emissions cap of 0.1% in some very fragile ecosystems, such as the Baltic Sea and the North Sea, including the English Channel, by 2015.

Member states are required to amend their existing legislation on the quality of marine fuels to align it with the new Directive by June 18, 2014. From 2015 onwards, member states will be responsible for ensuring that ships use fuels with sulphur content within the set parameters. To meet the requirements, operators are being encouraged to use low sulphur fuels (such as liquefied natural gas) and/or exhaust gas cleaning systems.

European Commission Vice-President Siim Kallas said: "Europe is now on track to implement the commitments unanimously taken by its member states in the International Maritime Organization back in 2008. We are also aware of the compliance costs affecting the industry which we are seeking to minimize through the framework of the "Sustainable Waterborne Transport Toolbox" presented in September 2011."

Environment Commissioner Janez Potocik added: "Improving air quality is a long-standing environmental challenge. It has taken some time but now the maritime sector is engaged. The big winners are the European citizens who will breathe cleaner air and enjoy a healthier life and industry supplying clean fuels and technology."

TAGS: marine

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