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Antwerp and Rotterdam weigh in on escalating NOx debate

Antwerp and Rotterdam weigh in on escalating NOx debate
The ports of Antwerp and Rotterdam have declared their opposition to the proposed postponement of tighter NOx emission regulation in the North Sea and English Channel.

The global regulation was agreed at the IMO in 2008, with the unanimous support of EU member states, but Russia is working to postpone the introduction of the rules until 2021.

The EU has no binding regulation of NOx emissions itself, but as an Emissions Control Area (ECA) under Marpol Annex VI, engines on newbuilds operating in the North Sea and English Channel are due to be subject to stricter Tier III NOx emissions rules from 1 January 2016.

Reports from Brussels last week suggested that the Russian move was gaining limited traction, threatening Europe's united front on the issue. Russia has put the postponement on the agenda of the next meeting of the IMO's Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC 66) for the first week of April.

"We have a big problem with the Russians," Fotis Maramtisos, director of logistics, maritime and land transport and passenger rights at the Directorate-General for Transport and Mobility, told Seatrade Global in Brussels last week, "We agreed in 2008 that NOx [regulation] would start in 2016. This has been supported unanimously by EU member states, and now the Russians want to move it to 2021"

"There are a couple of members thinking that this is not a community competence and they try to, in this current climate, support the Russians." calling the idea ridiculous, Maramitsos pointed out the $1bn of investment already made by the shipping and equipment industries to meet the regulations, adding that "we want to support IMO in 2008 on this particular topic."

The introduction of NOx and SOx emissions regulation for the shipping industry is aimed at improving air quality in coastal areas and reducing premature deaths from pollution-related illness.

"Ships' engines which comply with the new standards emit 80% less nitrogen oxides than the current built vessels. Reducing the emissions from shipping to improve air quality is in line with the sustainability policy of the two port authorities." the ports of Antwerp and Rotterdam stated.

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