In a landmark decision for both the environment and human health, 1 January 2020 has been set as the implementation date for a significant reduction in the sulphur content of the fuel oil used by ships.
The decision to implement a global sulphur cap of 0.50% m/m (mass/mass) in 2020 was taken by the International Maritime Organization (IMO), the regulatory authority for international shipping, during its Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC), meeting for its 70th session in London.
It represents a significant cut from the 3.5% m/m global limit currently in place and demonstrates a clear commitment by IMO to ensuring shipping meets its environmental obligations. IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim welcomed the decision which he said reflected the Organization’s determination to ensure that international shipping remains the most environmentally sound mode of transport. “The reductions in sulphur oxide emissions resulting from the lower global sulphur cap are expected to have a significant beneficial impact on the environment and on human health, particularly that of people living in port cities and coastal communities, beyond the existing emission control areas,” Mr. Lim said.
Regulations governing sulphur oxide emissions from ships are included in Annex VI to the International Convention for the prevention of Pollution from ships (MARPOL Convention). Annex VI sets progressive stricter regulations in order to control emissions from ships, including sulphur oxides (SOx) and nitrous oxides (NOx) – which present major risks to both the environment and human health.
The new global cap will not change the limits in SOx Emission Control Areas (ECAS) established by IMO, which since 1 January 2015 has been 0.10% m/m. The ECAs established under MARPOL Annex VI for SOx are: the Baltic Sea area; the North Sea area; the North American area (covering designated coastal areas off the United States and Canada); and the United States Caribbean Sea area (around Puerto Rico and the United States Virgin Islands).
IMO – the International Maritime Organization – is the United Nations specialized agency with responsibility for the safety and security of shipping and the prevention of marine pollution by ships.
Web site: www.imo.org
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