• MEPs shock ministers with cleaner shipping vote

    MEPs have challenged ministers and the Commission to agree to considerably stricter limits on sulphur emissions from large ships in an important vote in the European Parliament’s environment committee.

    [mailchimp_signup][/mailchimp_signup]Last month the committee voted by 35 to 17 (2 abstentions) to approve the report by the Finnish Green MEP Satu Hassi which proposes a reduction of about 75% in current levels of sulphur content in marine fuels. It also proposes that the current draft directive on marine fuels should refer to the Mediterranean Sea and not just the North Sea, Baltic and English Channel.

    The first reading of her report was approved by the parliament but was largely rejected by ministers, who approved a reduction in sulphur content of just 10% compared with today’s levels, and would not include Mediterranean waters.

    The fact that MEPs on the environment committee stood by Hassi’s original report sends a signal that they are willing to push for higher standards than ministers and the Commission want. Indeed sources in the Council of Ministers expressed surprise at how clear the vote was from the environment committee.

    Hassi said: “Now the committee has adopted a good report I will seek the best possible compromise with ministers for a position that best helps the environment.”

    Her report proposes reducing the sulphur content in marine fuels to no more than 1.5% within 12 months of the directive being agreed, with a second step to 0.5% in all EU waters by 2014.

    The vote is at least partly a success for an alliance of four environmental NGOs, including T&E, who lobbied MEPs. A presentation by the Swedish NGO Secretariat on Acid Rain, a T&E member, at a parliamentary hearing was thought to be particularly influential.

    T&E’s conference “Greening Motorways of the Sea” in Stockholm this month will reflect the next stage of the shipping debate by focusing more on using economic instruments to reduce other pollutants from shipping.

    This news story is taken from the April 2005 edition of T&E Bulletin.