An historic agreement was struck last week when the International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) Marine Environmental Protection Committee (MEPC 57) reached agreement on a package of amendments and revisions to MARPOL(*) Annex VI (Prevention of Air Pollution from Ships) which, subject to formal adoption at MEPC 58 in October 2008, will enter into force through the tacit amendment procedure in February 2010.
These measures provide for the wellbeing of our environment, and of those who live and work on ships or near ports. They address regional and global concerns on sulphur oxide (SOx), nitrogen oxide (NOx) and Particulate Matter (PM) emissions from both new and existing ships in an integrated manner, and will remove the pressure for regional legislation with its resulting complexities and complications for owners and administrations. They will also bring shipping into line with the rest of the transportation industry.
INTERTANKO has welcomed this package and expressed satisfaction that the goals set by INTERTANKO’s Council have been fully achieved - namely that the revisions should:
- ensure a solid platform of requirements,
- be realistic and feasible,
- seek a global, long-term and positive reduction of air emissions from ships,
- contribute to a long-term and predictable global regulatory regime.
INTERTANKO’s proactive proposals in 2006 struck at the root cause of SOx, NOx and PM emissions, calling for a phased introduction of low sulphur cleaner fuels, and leading to furious debate across the industry. These proposals not only ensured the availability of compliant fuel, but also ensured that ships and crews are not burdened with additional and excessive operational requirements. At the same time they offered ease of monitoring and verification for administrations.
Tabled initially to promote discussion during the Annex VI revision process, these proposals became the catalyst which, coupled with wide assessment of the implications and frequently intense and sometimes acrimonious arguments, has finally led to agreement on this package which will result in a significant reduction in harmful emissions from shipping over the coming decade. The original INTERTANKO submission provided a focus that brought about a more radical approach to the revision process and to the need to find global solutions to increasing regional pressures.