IBIA Welcomes EU Air Pollution Strategy

Monday, December 02, 2002
The International Bunker Industry Association (IBIA) says that it broadly welcomes the EU strategy for controlling air pollution from ships. However, it has reservations over the practicality of aspects of the strategy which go beyond international regulations, and the cost implications for shipowners. Ian Adams, secretary general of IBIA, says, "The European Commission has finally come out with a clear strategy on reducing air pollution from ships. That is good, because it will allow the industry to plan ahead, and it gives us firm proposals to react to. We welcome the fact that the bulk of the strategy coincides with the global regime which Annex VI to Marpol will introduce. And we welcome the fact that the strategy has specifically included proposals for introducing an emissions trading system, which leaves the door open for commercial incentives and for developing technical abatement solutions to air pollution problems." Adams continues, "However, we do have some doubts over the unilateral regional proposal to force all ships in EU ports to burn fuel with a maximum sulphur content of 0.2 percent. This will force uni-fuel ships to carry low sulfur diesel specifically for this purpose, and we also see that existing legislation which is supposed to ensure that low sulphur diesel is burned in EU ports has proven confusing and inconsistently applied." The proposed EU strategy has been sent to the European Council and the European Parliament, and the Commission anticipates that it will take about two years of negotiation to finalise the draft directive which will implement a SECA covering the English Channel, North Sea and Baltic, where only 1.5 per cent sulphur fuel can be burnt at sea, with additional limits on ferries and on ships in ports. "The proposals have some way to go," says Adams, "which means we can engage on the specifics at different levels. We will be consulting widely to examine how owners and bunker suppliers want to react to these proposals." Within the EU initiative there is reference to further examination of Emissions Reduction Trading but this will operate below the proposed cap. IBIA supports this development and believes that technological options coupled with a viable trading platform offer the prospect to match or exceed current proposed SOx emissions limits as expressed by a simple sulphur cap. IBIA would encourage the EU to examine a legislative framework similar to that for power plants within the EU that allows for technological options as a parallel to a fuel sulphur cap. Such a framework would also greatly facilitate further future reductions as the benefits of reduced marine emissions become evident.

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