The MedECA NGO network – a group of NGOs from France, Spain, Italy, Greece, Malta, Portugal and Germany – urges for the declaration of the Mediterranean Sea as an Emission Control Area for sulphur and nitrogen oxide emissions (SECA and NECA).
Anna Gerometta, president of Italian Cittadini per l’Aria, believes that 2021 is a ”decisive year to reduce air pollution from ships in the Mediterranean basin.”
All Med countries must agree at COP22 of the contracting parties of the Barcelona Convention in December to submit a proposal to declare the Mediterranean Sea an ECA to the International Maritime Organisation. The full effect on health and socio economics will only be achieved when the Mediterranean Sea is declared an ECA for SOx and NOx
In addition, María Garcia, policy officer at Ecologistas en Accíon in Spain, urged the contracting parties to protect the health of the people living in the region. As she says, high ambient concentrations of PM2.5 due to ship emissions are perfectly corresponding with major shipping routes.
However, Vasilis Papadopoulos, legal advisor to Hellenic Ornithological Society/BirdLife Greece, highlighted that the submission should include a ban of toxic heavy fuel oil and a ban of all kind of scrubbers in the Mediterranean Sea.
Numbers from the North and Baltic Sea ECA show the effectiveness of ECAs. Sulphur oxide and PM emissions went down substantially and more than 1,000 premature deaths per year were prevented. It is appalling that northern Europeans are more protected than people living around the Mediterranean Sea. This unequal treatment must be stopped immediately
noted Beate Klünder, policy officer at German based NABU.
In fact, tecent impact assessments commissioned by France, the European Commission and the Regional Marine Pollution Emergency Response Centre for the Mediterranean Sea (REMPEC) show that the designation of the Mediterranean Sea as SECA and NECA would avoid up to 10,000 premature deaths annually.
More specifrically, sulphur oxides would be reduced by 95%, PM2.5 emissions by 11% if the region was declared a SECA. Harmful nitrogen emissions would decrease by up to 70% if the Mediterranean Sea was declared also a NECA. The expected health benefits outweigh the costs of such a measure by factor 4.4.