Russian barrier in environmental policy blocks regulations for clean shipping

30 november 2014

The first week of April, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) in London will decide on a proposal by Russia, that aims to block the entry of a nitrogen limiting zone (NECA) for sea going ships in 2016. Nitrogene oxides (NOx) are main components for the formation of smog. International shipping will be the largest emitting source of NOx in Europe by the year of 2020. The North Sea Foundation calls upon the Dutch government and other European countries to put more effort to make sure the NECA will enter into force in the North Sea in 2016.

In recent years, the Netherlands and other North Sea countries have worked hard on a Nitrogen Emission Control Area (NECA) on the North Sea. In NECA sea areas, all new-built ships are required to limit NOx by over 80 %, by means of applying exhaust-gas cleaning or selective catalytic reaction (SCR). In May 2013, Russia and other European countries like Poland and Greece suddenly came with a proposal to block the NECA plans. Their main argument was that the technology for NOx reduction would still be inadequate. The entry of a NECA in US and Canadian waters, and repeated declarations of the engine industry process that the technology is applicable and ready to use. It is possible - and necessary- to declare the North Sea as a NECA area by 2016.

Harmful air pollutant

Many stakeholders, like the Ports of Rotterdam and Antwerp and the Cargo owners association, are of the same opinion as the North Sea Foundation. The Dutch government should work thoroughly on a proposal during the Marine Environmental Protection Committee (MEPC from the 31st of March to the 4th of April)  to declare the North Sea as a NECA in 2016. The high emission levels of sulphur, NOx and particulate matter cause billions of Euros of damage to health care and cause around 50,000 premature deaths within Europe. NOx also causes severe damage to nature reserve areas. ‘If clean up measures like these are erased, shipping can impossibly claim its much wanted reputation as a sustainable, modern clean mode of transportÂ’, Eelco Leemans, director of The North Sea Foundation and chairman of the Clean Shipping Coalition states. The NECA is an important step in making shipping and the maritime sector more sustainable. Ship engines have a lifetime of 30 years or more. The NECA is part of a comprehensive compromise in 2008 to strengthen the air pollution regulations in Annex VI of the IMO Marpol treaty.

Clean Shipping Index

The North Sea Foundation has worked for many years on the process to clean, sustainable shipping.  For example, by working alongside the maritime sector and cargo-owners on the Clean Ship policy concept and the Clean Shipping Index (CSI). The CSI is a practical and transparent tool that enables cargo-owners to choose for the cleanest mode of sea transport. Dutch press release