The smoke stacks on ships will emit 90 percent less sulphur in a few years. That is the outcome of negotiations in Brussels, where the Danish Presidency closed an ambitious deal today.
Ships are among the largest emitters of air pollution in Europe. The pollution leads to 50.000 premature deaths in Europe each year, and causes acid rain which destroys our ecosystems.
"This is a victory for environment and health in Europe. We have succeeded in getting an agreement, which secures substantially cleaner air for all Europeans. It’s a crucial step, because all EU member states will now be required to enforce the strict regulation, which addresses pollution that so far has been largely unregulated," says Danish Minister of Environment Ida Auken.
The new agreement has been through a thorough process in the EU, and the Danish Presidency has pushed to get a deal, which is as ambitious as possible.
Regulation of vulnerable areas
A key result of the new requirements is that an ambitious deal on air pollution struck in UN’s Maritime Organisation IMO in 2008, now becomes mandatory EU law.
The IMO deal requires all ships globally to reduce the sulphur content of their fuels by close to 90 %. Further requirements apply in areas appointed as Sulphur Emission control Areas, which includes large parts of the Northern European area. In these areas the ships are already faced with more stringent requirements than elsewhere, and by 2015 the sulphur content of the fuels must be reduced even further. That will bring the emissions down to one fifth of the level outside these areas.
However, the EU has chosen to go even further than the IMO. All ships in European waters must comply with the global standards by 2020, despite the fact that the IMO deal opens the possibility for a postponement till 2025 for entry into force.
"The requirements are beneficial for the transition to green and sustainable growth, and for the creation of new green jobs in Europe. We produce clean technologies for ships, including the so-called scrubbers that clean the exhaust gasses from ships. The regulation gives the opportunity for ships to use such technologies as an alternative to cleaner fuels," Ida Auken explains.
Air pollution from ships
International shipping in European waters would in the absence of new requirements emit more sulphur to the air by 2020 than all land-based sourced together. The sulphur from marine fuels forms acid rain, which destroys ecosystems. At the same time, sulphur contributes to the formation of particulate matter air pollution, which gives rise to respiratory disorders, cancer and cardiovascular disease.
The negative health impacts ultimately lead to shorter lifetime for a large number of Europeans. The EU Commission has estimated that approximately 500.000 Europeans die prematurely every year due to air pollution. And that approximately 50.000 of these premature deaths are attributable to the emissions from ships in EU waters.
Press Officer, Mariam Mosen, Ministry of the Environment
Phone: +45 72 54 60 60, email: email@example.com
Policy Advisor Jesper Stubkjaer, Danish EPA
Phone: +45 7254 4303, email: firstname.lastname@example.org