EUROPEAN COMMISSION TARGETS VESSELS’ SULPHUR DIOXIDE EMISSIONS
The European Commission has adopted a plan to reduce the impact of ships’ atmospheric emissions on the environment and human health.
Under the new strategy, the Brussels-based body wants to reduce the impact of emissions from seagoing ships on local air quality and acidification. The strategy will also help support the promotion of shipping as an “environmentally friendly mode of transport,” the European Commission said.
An important part of the strategy is a proposal to reduce the sulphur contents of marine fuels used in the European Union.
Environment commissioner Margot Wallstr'm said that the proposed stricter limits for sulphur in marine fuels would reduce sulphur dioxide emissions in
the European Union by over 500,000 tonnes every year.
The European Commission’s first priority is to reduce ship emissions of sulphur dioxide and particulate matter from ships, which are directly related to the sulphur content of marine fuels. Marine fuel has an average sulphur content of 2.7 percent, or 27,000 parts per million, compared with about 50 parts per million for fuel used in cars.
In addition to limits on sulphur contents in marine fuel, the European Commission strategy sets out a push for tougher global emissions standards at the International Maritime Organization, the development of new market-based measures to reduce ship emissions beyond regulatory standards, and the creation of a new Clean Marine Award scheme to promote low-emission shipping in the European Union.
A recent study for the European Commission estimated that, by 2010, emissions of sulphur dioxide in EU sea areas are likely to equate 75 percent of total land-based emissions, including those from all cars, trucks and industrial plants.
The European Commission’s strategy requires that EU member states press for tougher engine standards through the International Maritime Organization. In parallel,the commission aims to develop “market-based instruments” to encourage shipowners to use nitrogen oxide reduction technologies in EU seas.