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IMO to delay Tier III NOx emission limits for ships

16 May 2013

A committee of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) voted to postpone the entry into force of the MARPOL Annex VI Tier III NOx emissions limits for ship engines from 2016 to 2021, according to a report by the European environmental group Transport & Environment (T&E). The decision was taken by the IMO Marine Environment Protection Committee at its 65th session held in London on May 13-17, 2013.

The call to postpone Tier III limits was led by Russia, with the support from Poland, Greece, Cyprus, Malta, Latvia and Estonia. The Russian proposal was passed by a marginal majority, with strong opposition from several European countries and the United States, who asked the IMO for consideration of the decision. The US has also reserved the position to change the effective date for the delayed standards. The IMO decision will be voted again in the next Marine Environment Protection Committee expected to be held in March 2014.

The decision was condemned by the T&E and other environmental NGOs, who are now calling on the EU to adopt its own NOx limits for ships.

The IMO Tier III NOx limits adopted in 2008 were to be applicable to ships built from 2016 when sailing in areas designated by the IMO as Emission Control Areas (ECA). Currently the North American coastline is such an area, and the Baltic Sea might be designated as one. The Tier III NOx limits are about 75% lower than the currently applicable Tier II NOx limits.

The United States and Canada adopted national regulations enforcing IMO Tier III equivalent limits within the North American ECA effective 2016. The US EPA rule for Category III ships, however, references the international IMO standards. If the IMO emission standards are indeed delayed, the Tier III standards would be applicable from 2016 only for US flagged vessels.

The Canadian regulation incorporates a “Change of date” clause that delays the Canadian Tier III deadline and aligns it with that of the IMO in case the MARPOL Annex VI requirements become postponed.

The EU has never adopted NOx emission rules for ships and has relied on the international IMO regulations to control NOx emissions from ocean going vessels.

Source: Transport & Environment


IMO Standards