IMO environmental protection committee tightens requirements for shipping – New sulfur limit value
Maritime shipping in Europe is facing stricter environmental requirements. As of 1 January 2021, the Emission Control Areas (ECA) of the North and Baltic Seas are expected to have similar limits for the emission of nitrogen oxides as the US protection zones. The IMO’s “Marine Environment Protection Committee” adopted appropriate regulations in its 71st session (MEPC 71) in London.
US guidelines as a benchmark for new ECAs in Europe
So far, there have only been limit values on the North and Baltic Seas for sulfur dioxide in exhaust gas. Now, the IMO also wants to reduce the nitrogen oxide content in exhaust gases. The new set of regulations for the North and Baltic Seas will be based on the provisions laid down, inter alia for American waters, in “Regulation 13” of the Marpol Annex VI Marine Agreement. Newbuildings commissioned after 2021 may then emit no more than two to nine grams of nitrogen oxide / kWh. Value limits, which are likely to follow the values of “Tier I” and “Tier II” in Regulation 13, will also apply to older ships.
IMO defines its own climate protection goals
The Environment Committee of the IMO is currently preparing rules for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in global shipping. At the end of June 2017, an internal working group of the committee already developed suggestions for a roadmap for the introduction of rules on dealing, in particular, with carbon dioxide emissions. MEPC wants to present a list of short-, medium- and long-term climate protection targets at its 78th meeting in spring 2018. The international climate protection agreement, which was adopted in Paris in 2016, also called for shipping to reduce greenhouse gases.
The extent to which shipping contributes to climate change is controversial among experts. To ensure a secure data base, fuel consumption must be systematically collected on all ships worldwide. A corresponding collection of data is provided in a Marpol regulation, which will enter into force on 1 March 2018. The exact framework conditions are still being defined by the environmental committee MEPC and are to be published later this year.
LNG drive as a clean alternative
The tightened environmental and climate protection requirements for shipping increasingly direct the attention of the industry to new drive concepts beyond oil products as a fuel. At present, the cleanest alternative is the use of liquid natural gas (LNG). German Dry Docks is currently refitting the world’s first container ship to dual-fuel operation with LNG – the WES AMELIE.
Sulfur content in fuel reduced to 0.5 percent worldwide
The MEPC has also adopted tightened limit values for the sulfur content in fuels. As of 2020, the new sulfur guidelines in Marpol Annex VI, “Regulation 14.3.1”, will only allow for a maximum share of 0.5% outside ECA zones. At present, 3.5 percent are still allowed, while the fuel can already contain only 0.1 percent sulfur in ECA areas such as the North Sea and the Baltic Sea. An MPEC subcommittee now intends to clarify, by 2018, which technical measures – especially exhaust gas purification systems – are permitted if fuel with higher sulfur content is used.