The IMO tweeted that the Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC 70) had agreed the 0.5% cap on sulphur emissions from ships would come into force in 2020, rather than the potential later date of 2025. IMO said it would provide more details later.
The International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) said it welcome the decision that IMO member states had taken a clear decision that would dramatically reduce sulphur emissions from shipping worldwide.
It also though flagged up concerns over the avialability of low sulphur fuel. "However, there will be much to do between now and 2020 to ensure that sufficient quantities of compliant marine fuel of the right quality will indeed be available, and that this radical switchover to cleaner fuels will be implemented smoothly, in a harmonised manner, without distorting shipping markets or having negative impacts on the movement of world trade, about 90% of which is carried by sea," ICS stated.
NGO Transport & Enivronment applauded the decision. Bill Hemmings, shipping director at Transport & Environment, said: “This is a landmark decision and we are very pleased that the world has bitten the bullet and is now tackling poisonous sulphuric fuel in 2020."
"Now the focus should shift towards implementing this decision, which is avbig issue since it’s not yet clear who should police ships on the high seas, and how," he added.
How the regulation can be enforced in the middle of the Pacific, for example, remains very much open to question.
The cap has been flagged up by analysts as encouraging the scrapping of older vessels, especially when combined with the costs of meeting the Ballast Water Management Convention which comes into force in September 2017.