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EU to control pollution from oceangoing ships

21 January 2002

The European Commission (EC) has issued a discussion paper titled “A Community Strategy On Air Pollution From Seagoing Ships”, intended to inform the development of a European strategy on air pollution from seagoing ships.

Emissions from ocean going ships are currently not regulated by the EU legislation. However, ships’ contribution to EU emission inventory is rising. According to preliminary estimates, by 2010 ship emissions of sulfur dioxide (SO2) could reach 75% of land emissions. For nitrogen oxides (NOx), the figure is probably near 60%.

The strategy will focus on the emission reduction of SO2, NOx, carbon dioxide (CO2), and volatile organic compounds (VOC). The strategy will likely result in changes to three Directives: (1) Directive 2001/81 on National Emission Ceilings, (2) Directive 1999/32 on the sulfur Content of Liquid Fuels, and (3) Directive 1994/63 on Stage 1 VOC Vapour Recovery.

The EC stated that for sulfur oxide the cost of reducing emissions from ships is now considerably lower than further abatement measures in other sectors. High SO2 emissions from ships are caused by extremely high sulfur content in marine fuels, which may reach 4-5% and more. The cost of limiting the sulfur content of marine bunkers in the North Sea and the Baltic Sea to 1.5% (as required under Annex VI of the International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) MARPOL Convention 2) has been estimated at about €87m per year; while equivalent emissions reductions from land-based sources would cost about €1150m.

NOx emissions from ships are regulated by the IMO’s MARPOL conventions, subject to ratification by member countries. The EC said it was keen to promote an early ratification of the air pollution Annex VI of the IMO’s MARPOL Convention. However, the standards set in MARPOL Annex VI are not very stringent, and it is not clear when the Annex will enter into force, said the Commission.

The discussion paper includes a number of detailed questions on reduction of ship emissions. Written comments from stakeholders will be accepted by 15 February 2002.

EC Discussion Paper

Source: European Commission