EU proposes to slash sulphur emissions from ships
New standards could cost the European shipping industry up to $15.6 billion.
Sun, Jul 17, 2011 at 11:43 AM
BRUSSELS - The European Commission proposed on Friday to cut the maximum sulphur limit in shipping fuels, aiming to reduce sulphur dioxide emissions from maritime transport by up to 90 percent, the bloc's executive said.
The proposal would cut the maximum permissible sulphur content of fuels to 0.1 percent from 1.5 percent from 2015 in sensitive areas such as the Baltic Sea and the Channel, and to 0.5 percent from 4.5 percent in all other areas from 2020.
"This proposal is an important step forward in reducing emissions from the fast-growing maritime transport sector," EU Environment Commissioner Janez Potocnik said in a statement.
As well as slashing sulphur dioxide emissions, the proposal would cut fine particle emissions from ships by up to 80 percent, the Commission said.
The expected cost to the shipping industry of the new standards is between 2.6 billion and 11 billion euros ($3.7-$15.6 billion), which the EU executive said would be far outweighed by public health savings, of up to 34 billion euros.
On Friday, EU paper industry confederation CEPI said the new limits would increase the sector's shipping costs by an estimated 20-45 percent, based on a predicted 50-80 percent increase in the cost of marine fuel.
"Our industry is still recovering from the global recession. To introduce this type of measure now does not allow industry to breathe," CEPI Director General Teresa Presas said.
Logistics costs including shipping amount to 10 percent of the EU paper industry's 72 billion euro annual turnover.
The proposals incorporate global standards agreed in 2008 at the International Maritime Organization (IMO) into EU law, and must now be jointly approved by EU governments and the European Parliament.
Presas urged EU member states and lawmakers to postpone the introduction of the new rules to give industry more time to develop cost-efficient technologies to cut sulphur emissions.
Ships will be allowed to use "equivalent technologies" such as exhaust gas cleaning systems as an alternative to using low sulphur fuels, the statement said.
Ships traditionally use heavy fuel oil with a sulphur content of up to 5 percent for propulsion, compared with an EU limit of 0.001 percent in road fuels.
Sulphur dioxide emissions cause acid rain and generate fine dust, which can cause respiratory and cardiovascular disease in humans.
Without action to reduce them, sulphur dioxide emissions from shipping would exceed those from all land-based sources by 2020, the Commission said.
(Reporting by Charlie Dunmore, editing by Rex Merrifield and Jane Baird)
Copyright 2011 Reuters Environmental Online Report