Norway U-turn on NOx limits for ship gives political cover to countries backing Russia

20 maart 2014

The Norwegian government has been urged to drop its proposal to postpone the introduction of NOx emission control areas for ships by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO). The delay would give political cover to countries eager to dismantle environmental legislation without being seen to side with Russia, say environmental organisations.

Norway, together with the Marshall Islands, is backing the 2016 application date for NOx emission control areas (NECAs) in North America while also supporting Russian calls to delay the date of any new NECAs. The Clean Shipping Coalition [1], in a letter to the Norwegian Minister of Climate and Environment, say the move, is politically divisive and environmentally harmful. The delay is opposed by most European states and the US. The law on NECAs was adopted unanimously by the IMO in 2008 and will require an 80% reduction in NOx emissions from new ships sailing in the specially designated areas. Last year the IMO’s expert review of NOx control technologies concluded such technologies were available and that the regulation should proceed on schedule. Last spring Russia submitted a proposal – initially opposed by Norway – that NECAs be delayed by a full five years, until 2021. But on March 13, Minister Tine Sundtoft confirmed to the Norwegian parliament that her government now favours the postponement.

Eelco Leemans, President of the Clean Shipping Coalition said: “The Norwegian government’s backsliding on necessary measures against NOx pollution on our seas offers political cover for those countries and flag states eager to dismantle environmental legislation without having to be seen to side with Russia.” “Norway needs to withdraw its proposal for a delay and resume its usually responsible approach to environmental measures in shipping by working with European and other IMO countries to uphold the integrity of global regulations.”

Note to editors: [1] The Clean Shipping Coalition, which has observer status at the International Maritime Organisation, is the only global international environmental organisation that focuses exclusively on shipping issues. Its members are the Air Pollution & Climate Secretariat (AirClim), the Bellona Foundation, the Clean Air Task Force, the Environmental Defense Fund, Transport and Environment, Oceana, Seas At Risk, and Stichting De Noordzee (North Sea Foundation).