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IMO takes slow approach to SOx reduction

London: The Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) has approved proposed amendments to the MARPOL Annex VI regulations to reduce harmful emissions from ships. The main changes would see a progressive reduction in sulphur oxide (SOx) emissions from ships, with the global sulphur cap reduced initially to 3.50% (from the current 4.50%, effective from 1 January 2012; then progressively to 0.50 %, effective from 1 January 2020, subject to a feasibility review to be completed no later than 2018.

The limits applicable in Sulphur Emission Control Areas (SECAs) would be reduced to 1.00%, beginning on 1 March 2010 (from the current 1.50 %); being further reduced to 0.10 % , effective from 1 January 2015.

Progressive reductions in nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions from marine engines were also agreed, with the most stringent controls on so-called "Tier III" engines, i.e. those installed on ships constructed on or after 1 January 2016, operating in Emission control Areas.

The revised Annex VI will allow for an Emission Control Area to be designated for SOx and particulate matter, or NOx, or all three types of emissions from ships, subject to a proposal from a Party or Parties to the Annex which would be considered for adoption by the Organization, if supported by a demonstrated need to prevent, reduce and control one or all three of those emissions from ships.

In the current Annex VI, there are two SECAs designated, namely, the Baltic Sea and the North Sea area, which also includes the English Channel.  [07/04/08]

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