Green Group Calls IMO NOx Decision Rushed

Tuesday April 8, 2014

The International Maritime Organisation (IMO)'s decision Friday to delay the start dates of some limits on nitrogen oxides (NOx) in ship emissions was adopted in a rushed fashion, environmental NGO Transport & Environment (T&E) said in an emailed statement.

The change in implementation means the existing North American NOx Emissions Control Area (NECA) will take effect as scheduled in 2016, but other NECA start dates will be decided separately.

T&E said the change in plans "was adopted without any assessment of its impact" and ignored MARPOL requirements for a six-month notice prior to the adoption of substantive amendments.

"The IMO's decision to delay NOx regulations is a serious setback for efforts to tackle the biggest source of nitrogen oxides in Europe, which is an invisible killer causing cancer and lung disease," said Bill Hemmings, T&E's programme manager for shipping.

The group said that, although NOx emissions from shipping are projected to exceed those from land-based sources by 2020 in Europe, discussion at the IMO meeting gave only minimal attention to environmental and health issues, focusing instead on the rules' effects on industry.

The IMO's decision represented a compromise between the initial plan to put the rules into effect in NECAs globally in 2016 and Russia's position that they should be entirely delayed until 2021, according to Danish Minister for the Environment Kirsten Brosbøll.