Although shipping is probably the most environmentally friendly form of transport, emissions from ships also contribute to general air pollution. Tanker owners are determined to play their part in improving air quality, and have taken – and will continue to take - important steps to curb air emissions from ships.

The first measure that needs to be taken is to ensure that an internationally agreed instrument aimed directly at curbing air pollution from ships enters into force and is uniformly applied. In 1997 an international agreement was reached in the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) on what is commonly known as Annex VI to MARPOL. Governments have been unacceptably slow in ratifying this instrument, and in the meantime technological and other developments have been made. With Annex VI we have an international agreement which, when it is enforced, will be an important step forward in improving air quality. It is the result of long deliberations, and it is essential that these rules enter into force as soon as possible, rather than being delayed by the start of new international negotiations which obviously will take an even longer time to be finalised and implemented. International tanker owners are all for moving forward, but let us not upset and delay what undoubtedly will be improvements on the way.


In order to enter into force, Annex VI needs to be ratified by 15 countries which control at least 50% of the world’s commercial fleet. So far it has been ratified by Bahamas, Norway, Singapore, Marshall Islands, Sweden, Malawi and Liberia. Thus we have 7 countries representing 25% of the world’s commercial tonnage. It is notable that the normally progressive European Union member states, with the exception of Sweden, have been rather slow in becoming parties to this important agreement.


The European Commission has, commendably, encouraged its Member States to ratify Annex VI. The Commission has also ordered a study to look at whether the Annex VI standards are sufficient. The study, entitled “Quantification of emissions from ships associated with ship movements between ports in the European Community” was issued in July, and was produced by ENTEC, a UK based consultancy company.


Dr. Tim Gunner, a consultant in this field, was asked by INTERTANKO to comment on the report. Dr. Gunner has found that the report is based on too many outdated data and questionable assumptions. These assumptions have led the authors to erroneous secondary assumptions and thus the final outcome might differ very much from the reality. Not surprisingly, this leads to incorrect estimates for the future, and accordingly we have severe doubts about the validity of using this study as the basis for future policy decisions.


The Report reveals possible misunderstandings and definitely limited experience or knowledge about the functionality and operations of ships in general and of ships’ engines in particular. Furthermore, collection of correct data, as required in this project, is almost impossible without long term and dedicated direct measurement onboard ships.


INTERTANKO is not convinced that the ENTEC report can be used as a basis for European policy decisions. The shipping industry has already proven that it is prepared to assume its share of the responsibility to reduce and limit air emissions from ships, and looks forward to participating in the development of future relevant regulations in a constructive manner. The first priority in this work is to ensure that Annex VI of MARPOL is ratified and enforced. At the same time, we will work with IMO and the European Commission in finding further ways of improving air quality.


A copy of Dr. Gunner’s preliminary review can viewed on INTERTANKO’s web page at: Click here , with a two page summary at: Click here


The full ENTEC report is available here.


For more details or questions:

Contact: Dragos Rauta, e-mai.: