UN regulations to limit sulphur emissions hailed

New Delhi, Oct 28 (IANS) Global environmental groups on Friday applauded the United Nations’ shipping agency decision for setting global regulations to limit the amount of sulphur emissions from vessels from 2020.

“This is a landmark decision, and we are very pleased that the world has bitten the bullet and is now tackling poisonous sulphuric fuel in 2020,” Transport & Environment Shipping Director Bill Hemmings said in a statement.

He said the International Maritime Organisation’s (IMO) decision on Thursday to cap the sulphur content of marine fuels sold worldwide at 0.5 per cent reduces the contribution of shipping to the world’s air pollution impact from about 5 per cent down to 1.5 per cent and will save millions of lives in the coming decades.

“Now the focus should shift towards implementing this decision, which is a big issue since it’s not yet clear who should police ships on the high seas, and how,” said Hemmings.

The global cap on the content of sulphur in marine fuel by 2020 or 2025 was first agreed by acclamation in 2008.

The sulphur limit for marine heavy fuel oil is 3,500 times higher than the limit for diesel used in Europe’s cars and trucks, making the shipping industry the world’s second biggest emitter of sulfur dioxide (SO2) after China.

John Maggs, senior policy officer at Seas At Risk, said: “Air pollution, including from shipping, is a global health and environmental scourge. The world has waited a long time for the shipping industry to clean up its act and move towards cleaner fuel.”

“That moment has come. Cleaner shipping fuel will become a legal reality in 2020. Thousands of premature deaths will be avoided and millions of people around the world will now quite literally be able to breathe easier,” said Maggs.

Both environmental groups — Transport & Environment and Seas At Risk — are members of the Clean Shipping Coalition.

This decision will reduce SO2 emissions, which cause premature deaths from diseases such as lung cancer and heart disease, from shipping by 85 per cent compared with today’s levels.