Air pollution from sulphur oxides (SOx) that ships emit has dropped significantly over the past years, a new compliance report by the European Commission shows. This is the result of joint efforts by EU and the maritime industry to implement EU rules under the Sulphur Directive and the choice for cleaner fuel.
EU mechanisms that technically and financially support Member states to reduce emissions played an important role in compliance. Since 2015, stricter limits in the “Sulphur Oxides Emissions Control Areas” of the North and Baltic Seas have reduced emissions by more than 50%, while the overall economic impact on the sector remained minimal.
Karmenu Vella, Commissioner for the Environment, Fisheries and Maritime Affairs, notes:
Environmental rules deliver and protect our citizens’ quality of life when all sides involved work together to correctly apply them. The shared commitment by Member States, industry, and the maritime community as a whole is paying off. People living around protected sea areas can breathe cleaner and healthier air. And we have preserved the level playing field for industry.
According to the report, the main reason behind this success are the following:
- EU support mechanisms and technical assistance: The Commission has worked extensively with the EU Member States and the maritime community in the European Sustainable Shipping Forum (ESSF), fostering dialogue and peer to peer exchanges on environmental sustainability challenges confronting the EU maritime transport. The European Maritime Safety Agency provided sound technical assistance to Member States.
- Combination of voluntary and mandatory tools: For example, a new and voluntary electronic enforcement system, Thetis-EU, allows for almost real-time monitoring of the compliance record of individual ships in all Member States. By the end of March 2018, around 30.000 sulphur inspection results had been registered. This allowed assessing an overall compliance of over 93% of the inspected ships in the SOx-ECAs.
- EU financial support for the uptake of clean ship technologies: The Commission actively supports cleaner maritime transport through a number of financial instruments aimed at research, development and deployment projects of innovative technologies or clean fuels (e.g. The ‘Horizon 2020’ programme, the Connecting Europe Facility and Green Shipping Guarantee programme).
- Synergies with the International Maritime Organisation: the EU smart and technology-based sulphur compliance and enforcement strategy was recognized as global best practice by the International Maritime Organization and is steering developments at global level to further reduce impacts form shipping emissions.
The report comes shortly after the IMO decision to reduce GHG emissions from international shipping by at least 50% by 2050. Moreover, the European inland shipping sector has signed the Declaration of Nijmegen in the Netherlands, on 13 April, reflecting the commitment of the sector to expedite the greening process in the years ahead, to uphold its competitiveness vis-à-vis road and rail transport, as well as to reduce CO2 emissions by 20% by 2030.
You can see more information in the PDF herebelow
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