Air pollution from sulphur oxides (SOx) emitted from ships has substantially dropped over the past years, a new compliance report shows. This positive trend is the result of joint efforts by Member States and the maritime industry to implement EU rules under the Sulphur Directive and opt for cleaner fuel.
EU mechanisms to technically and financially support Member states to reduce emissions were an important factor in compliance. Since 2015, stricter limits in the designated ‘Sulphur Oxides Emissions Control Areas’ of the North and Baltic Seas have more than halved emissions, while the overall economic impact on the sector remained minimal. Karmenu Vella, Commissioner for the Environment, Fisheries and Maritime Affairs said: “Environmental rules deliver and protect our citizens’ quality of life when all sides involved work together to correctly apply them. The shared commitment by Member States, industry, and the maritime community as a whole is paying off. People living around protected sea areas can breathe cleaner and healthier air. And we have preserved the level playing field for industry.” The report comes days after a landmark agreement at the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) on a strategy to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from international shipping by at least 50% by 2050. Both illustrate the commitment of the Commission to the goals of the Paris Agreement and to a Europe that protects with cleaner air for all. Exhaust gases from ships are indeed a significant source of emission and impact on citizens’ health and the environment. More details on the compliance report can be found here. More information on the IMO agreement is available here.