There was forward movement on two major environmental initiatives in the shipping industry last Friday.
At the International Maritime Organization in London, the Marine Environment Protection Committee voted in favor of a proposal requiring new ships to meet mandatory energy efficiency benchmarks.
Meanwhile, in Brussels, the European Commission said it was proposing to cut sulfur dioxide emissions from shipping by 90 percent and final particle emissions by 80 percent by lowering the sulfur content of shipping fuels.
The EC said proposed legislation incorporates new IMO standards into EU law. The maximum permissible sulfur content of maritime fuels used in sensitive areas such as the Baltic Sea, the North Sea and the English Channel will fall from the previous level of 1.5 percent to 0.1 percent, as of Jan. 1, 2015. Other areas are to achieve an even bigger cut, from 4.5 percent to 0.5 percent by Jan. 1, 2020. Ships will be allowed to use equivalent technologies such as exhaust gas cleaning systems as an alternative to using low-sulfur bunker fuel. Other important changes proposed include more unified reporting and verification, and sampling provisions aligned with international standards.
Heavy fuel oils used in shipping can have a sulfur content of up to 5 percent; in comparison, the EC said sulfur content of fuels used in trucks or passenger cars must not exceed 0.001 percent.
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