Committee calls for strict limits on sulphur content in shipping fuel

The European Parliament's Environment Committee has voted overwhelmingly in favour of reducing the sulphur content of shipping fuel and introducing mandatory limits to cut sulphur emissions.

Shipping is now the biggest source of sulphur emissions, a major cause of acid rain, in the EU and the aim of the committee’s draft directive is to cut this by around three-quarters.

At present, a limit exists to restrict the sulphur content of shipping fuels in vessels in the Baltic, the North Sea and the English Channel to 1.5% from 1 July 2007.

The committee’s vote has called for a much tougher second phase to limit sulphur content to 0.5% by mass by January 2010 for all vessels in the Baltic, North Sea and the English Channel, and for all vessels in all EU waters by 2014.

The vote was welcomed by the European Environmental Bureau (EEB). Kerstin Meyer, EEB Air Pollution Policy Officer said: “This shows that Parliament stands strong on cleaning up dirty ship fuel. Sulphur in ship fuel needs to be reduced much further to protect people and sensitive ecosystems. At the moment an average ship pollutes 150 to 300 times more per kilometre/tonne than a truck. Without additional abatement measures, within ten years air pollution from ships will surpass the total from all land based emission sources in the EU.”

By David Hopkins

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