Air pollution from sulphur oxides (SOx) emitted from ships has substantially dropped over the past years, a new compliance report issued by the European Commission shows.
As explained, this positive trend is the result of joint efforts by member states and the maritime industry to implement EU rules under the Sulphur Directive and opt for cleaner fuel.
EU mechanisms to technically and financially support member states to reduce emissions were an important factor in compliance, according to the commission.
Since 2015, stricter limits in the designated ‘Sulphur Oxides Emissions Control Areas’ of the North and Baltic Seas have more than halved emissions, while the overall economic impact on the sector remained minimal, the report says.
“Environmental rules deliver and protect our citizens’ quality of life when all sides involved work together to correctly apply them. The shared commitment by member states, industry, and the maritime community as a whole is paying off. People living around protected sea areas can breathe cleaner and healthier air. And we have preserved the level playing field for industry,” Karmenu Vella, Commissioner for the Environment, Fisheries and Maritime Affairs, commented.
The report comes days after the member states of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) reached an agreement on a strategy to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from international shipping by at least 50% by 2050.
Both are said to illustrate the commitment of the EU to the goals of the Paris Agreement and to a Europe that protects with cleaner air for all as exhaust gases from ships are a significant source of emission and impact on citizens’ health and the environment.