By Bill Hemmings, aviation and shipping directorWHAT WE LEARNED IN 2016: 2015 ended with big promises from the UN aviation and shipping bodies, ICAO and the IMO, that they’d finally act to rein in their sectors’ substantial and growing climate impact. It has been almost 20 years since they were first tasked with doing so by the Kyoto Protocol, and 2016 would be their last chance.
The poisonous sulphur content of marine fuels is to be capped at 0.5% by the year 2020, a move that is expected to prevent hundreds of thousands of premature deaths, mainly in the developing world. T&E applauded the decision by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), which had considered delaying the limit by five years but, after a sustained campaign by environmental groups, stayed with its original deadline.
The pressure on Europe to take action on shipping’s climate emissions is building after the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) decided last month to delay by at least a further seven years any decision on a global agreement to cut greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) from ships. Leading members of the European Parliament called the delay an abject failure by national governments and the shipping industry.
Legislation cutting nitrogen oxides (NOx) from shipping in the Baltic and North Seas has moved a step closer with a decision by countries bordering the Baltic Sea to apply for tighter NOx limits in designated so-called ‘emission control areas’ (ECAs).
The world’s first code of conduct for ships using the newly accessible Arctic shipping routes has been agreed, but environmental groups say it does not go far enough and, without further strengthening, it is just a question of when a serious incident occurs in the Arctic and Antarctic environments.
Efforts to improve air quality at sea have been boosted by the decision of the Danish government to spend DKK 7 million (around €940,000) on making sure ships observe the regulations aimed at guaranteeing clean air. The money will be used for controls to make sure all ships comply with air quality legislation.
MEPs have voted to exclude nitrogen oxides (NOx) from the monitoring, reporting and verification (MRV) of shipping emissions in the EU, despite the fact that NOx from shipping in Europe is expected to exceed all land-based sources by 2020. The vote came shortly after a decision by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) to delay stricter NOx engine standards for new ships operating in any newly declared NOx emissions control areas (NECAs).