REMPEC, the IMO-administered marine pollution emergency response centre in the Mediterranean, has concluded a study to evaluate the costs and benefits of implementing a SECA in the Mediterranean region. It found that additional costs will be needed, but health and environmental benefits would be significant.
From 1 January 2020, IMO will require the reduction of the sulphur content allowed in ships’ fuel-oil, globally, to just 0.5%. This will result in important health benefits.
Except from the 2020 sulphur cap, IMO also has a process according to which specific areas can be designated as Sulphur Emission Control Areas, or SECAs. Within SECAs, the requirement is for even cleaner fuel, namely of just 0.1% sulphur.
According to the study, further reducing the sulphur content of marine fuels used in the Mediterranean would come with considerable costs. However, the significant health and environmental benefits, including fewer cases of respiratory diseases and premature being deaths avoided annually resulting from improved air quality, generated by a Mediterranean SECA, outweigh the overall costs.
The REMPEC study will be reviewed by a committee of technical experts from Mediterranean countries and the European Union. Further discussion will then occur during a regional workshop at REMPEC’s Malta headquarters in December.
Recently, on the sidelines of a side event of the MEPC 73 meeting at IMO headquarters, France presented the results of its impact assessment of a possible emission control area (ECA) in the Mediterranean Sea to minimize shipping emissions.
The findings revealed that a combined ECA which addresses sulphur and nitrogen oxides at the same time has the greatest positive effect in terms of reduced air pollutant concentrations as well as corresponding socio-economic and ecological benefits.