INTERTANKO co-hosts EU emissions seminar

Staged in the heart of the European Parliament building in Brussels, a successful seminar on air emissions from shipping was co-hosted by INTERTANKO, the European Environmental Bureau, Bellona Europa, and the European Community Shipowners’ Association (ECSA) to discuss views on the Commission’s proposed changes to the EU Directive 1999/32 on sulphur in fuel.

The seminar was chaired by the Parliament’s rapporteur for the Directive, Heidi Hautala, who opened the session with an introduction explaining the changes which she intends to make to the Directive, stating that it was important to ensure that the EU worked through the IMO to achieve the aims of the Directive at an international level.

Peter Gammeltoft of the European Commission introduced the changes made to the Directive by the Commission suggesting that the proposals were environmentally ambitious but politically and practically possible. The panel speakers, composed of two environmental NGOs, ECSA and INTERTANKO, expressed their thoughts on the Directive and its aims. It was generally felt by ‘Acid Rain’ (a Swedish air emissions group) and ‘Seas at Risk’ (a European conglomerate of environmental groups focused on marine pollution) that the Directive did not go far enough and that the emphasis was on the need for the correct fuel to be supplied to the shipping industry.

INTERTANKO and ECSA spoke of the efforts of the shipping industry to secure ratification of MARPOL Annex VI with Peter Swift of INTERTANKO illustrating the reduction in emissions which would have been achieved if states had already ratified the MARPOL Annex on air pollution. Further practical issues were explained with a particular emphasis on the difficulties that could be experienced with the use of 0.2% fuel at berth.

The seminar also aimed to draw into debate the shadow rapporteurs and the other MEPs involved in consideration of the Directive. In this respect it was essential to hear the views of Willi Pieck (German Socialist Party) and Robert Goodwill (UK Conservative Party). Mr Goodwill gave a positive message of working towards the objective of reduced emissions but ensuring that the practical and operational problems faced by the shipping industry were taken into account.

Following the panel presentations the floor was given to the oil representatives, EUROPIA, who supported the shipping industry’s concerns giving particular emphasis to the 0.2% requirement in the Directive and the difficulties with the supply of this type of fuel. With regard to the 1.5% fuel, EUROPIA felt that if the market required it then it would be supplied.

In her summing up, Heidi Hautala echoed the thoughts of both the panellists and the floor when she stated that this was a rational and positive session allowing all stakeholders to air their opinions and explain their thoughts to the MEPs who will debate the issue later in the Spring.

Contact: Tim Wilkins, on e-mail: