EU Votes to Adopt IMO Sulfur Limits

by Ship & Bunker News Team
Wednesday September 12, 2012

The European Parliament said Tuesday it voted 606 votes to 55, with 3 abstentions, to officially approve legislation which will see the general sulfur limit in European seas fall from 3.5% to 0.5% by 2020.

"Highly polluting shipping fuels have a serious impact on the environment but this is also the most important health reform of this parliamentary mandate. With air pollution from shipping expected to outstrip land-based emissions by 2020, urgent remedial action is needed", said rapporteur Satu Hassi.

The vote sees European legislation officially adopt the maximum sulfur content limits for marine fuel agreed by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), which are 0.1% in Emissions Control Areas (ECAs) by 2015, and a general limit of 0.5% by 2020. MEPs deleted provisions that would have allowed that deadline to be postponed by five years.

"The limits can be met by using cleaner fuels or technology, such as scrubbers, that can deliver an equivalent result," it said.

The European Environmental Bureau (EEB), who says it is Europe's largest federation of environmental organisations with over 140 member organisations, welcomed the news.

"Today’s vote is good news for all EU citizens. Shipping air pollution causes 50,000 premature deaths in Europe every year so this reduction will bring clear benefits to people’s health, quality of life and environment, as well as leading to important public health savings," commented Louise Duprez, EEB's Policy Officer on air pollution.