European Commission to promote low-emission shipping

The European Commission’s Communication on air pollution from ships (proposed on 20 November 2002) revealed that the European Commission plans to adopt a thematic strategy on maritime air pollution by 2005. By using the Clean Air for Europe (CAFE) programme and establishing a Clean Marine Award Scheme the Commission aims to promote low-emission shipping. It is most likely that this award will be presented for the first time at the beginning of June 2004.

On 3 December 2003 the European Parliament adopted a non-binding resolution on air pollution from ships, one year after the Communication was proposed by the European Commission. The Parliament would like the European Commission to go even further with this resolution and legislate on polycyclic aromatics such as PAH and heavy metals (e.g. nickel and vanadium). The European Commission has, however, already explained to the MEPs that they consider it to be somewhat premature to draft EU standards before the 4th Daughter Directive [see Note 1 below] is adopted and has established monitoring requirements for these pollutants. This Directive requires the European Commission to report to the European Council and European Parliament on progress on analysing the included pollutants by the end of 2008.

On 22 December 2003, the Environment Council will most likely adopt a set of conclusions which will ask Member States to consider working on the revision of Annex VI of IMO’s MARPOL Convention with the adoption of more ambitious measures with regard to a tighter global sulphur cap for heavy fuel oils burned by ships; tighter NOx standards for engines; support for an IMO Strategy to limit CO2 emissions.

The Council conclusions will probably ask the Commission to consider particulate matter, ozone concentration and NOx as a part of the CAFE programme because the Council considers that the current MARPOL Annex VI provisions do not cover all environmental aspects considered by CAFE, or some of them need to be further improved to be aligned with the EU intended standards. The Commission will draft a proposal for tighter NOx standards by the end of 2006 if IMO has not made any proposals for tighter standards by that date. The Council also invites the Commission to report on possible action on ship greenhouse gases in 2005.

These Council conclusions confirm the Commission’s intended plans for action, including market-based instruments in 2005 and NOx standards by the end of 2006.

Note 1: Proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council relating to arsenic, cadmium, nickel and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in ambient air. The objective of this Daughter Directive is to require the assessment of the ambient air quality existing in the Member States on the basis of common methods and criteria. The Directive was proposed on 16 July 2003 and might be adopted in 2005.

Contact: Dragos Rauta