The International Maritime Organisation (IMO)'s Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC), has reached a compromise on regulation of nitrogen oxides (NOx), industry news site ShippingWatch reports.
Under the plan, increased regulations will start in 2016 for established NOx Emissions Control Areas (NECAs), and new NOx areas can be established, with local states having the power to decide that ships built up to 16 months before the new rules take force must adopt emissions-reducing technology.
Rules for the North American NECA call for ships built starting in 2016 to comply with Tier III NOx standards, according to the IMO website.
Russia had been pushing for a complete postponement of NOx regulations from 2016 to 2021, a plan the European Commission has sought to stop.
Danish Minister for the Environment Kirsten Brosbøll hailed the MEPC decision as a victory.
"We were looking at a situation where Russia would manage to push a proposal through that would postpone the implementation date for low-emission regions in the world to 2021," she said.
"Fortunately, that proposal didn't fly, and I'm very pleased with that."
Denmark and other Scandinavian countries are seeking to establish a new NECA in the Baltic Sea.
Environmental NGO Transport & Environment (T&E) responded to MEPC with an emailed statement saying it "deplores this rushed-through decision, as it will negatively impact on the environment and the health of Europeans."
The group said the last-minute delay could lead to questions about any future IMO decisions with delayed implementation.
"It remains to be seen whether this decision will enhance the prospects for the establishment of NECAs in the Baltic and North seas," said Bill Hemmings, T&E's programme manager for shipping.
"If such applications are not soon forthcoming, it may have the reverse effect of hastening the need for retrofitting of ships serving ports in Europe in order to curb growing emissions.
"We urge the Baltic and North Sea countries to submit their applications for new NOx emissions control areas as soon as possible."