Scientific Study to Assist MARPOL Amendment Process Completed

Friday, December 21, 2007
A comprehensive study commissioned by IMO to assist in the planned revision of regulations governing air pollution from ships has been successfully completed. The informal cross government/industry scientific group of experts was set up, in July 2007, by IMO Secretary-General Efthimios E. Mitropoulos following approval by the Organization's Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC). It was tasked with reviewing the impact on the environment, on human health and on the shipping and petroleum industries, of applying any of the fuel options proposed to reduce SOx and particulate matter generated by shipping, as well as the consequential impact such fuel options could have on other emissions, including CO2 emissions from ships and refineries.

The group's report will now be presented to IMO's Sub-Committee on Bulk Liquids and Gases (BLG), at its February 2008 session and the MEPC, at its March/April session. The BLG Sub-Committee is expected to finalize proposals for amendments to Annex VI of the MARPOL Convention, which regulates the emission of atmospheric pollutants in ships' exhausts. These proposals will then be forwarded to the MEPC for approval and subsequent formal adoption at its next session in October 2008. Amendments to MARPOL normally enter into force 16 months after their adoption.

The study group was led by Mr. Mike Hunter of the United Kingdom and was made up of independent experts nominated by The Bahamas, China, Germany, Japan, Norway, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States of America, as well as from a number of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in consultative status with IMO, representing a broad range of shipping and oil industry interests. The study was funded by donations from IMO Member States and NGOs. An initial contribution from IMO, of US$20,000, came from the balance of funds from the Onassis Foundation Prize for the Environment, which was awarded to the Organization in 1997.

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