Sulphur emissions from shipping to be slashed

No. 2, June 2011

Contents: Necessary to go for 50 per cent by 2020 (editorial), The remaining carbon budget, High economic benefits of new NEC directive, The role of forests in the Climate Convention, 100 percent renewable energy globally by 2050, Strict sulphur standards no threat to shipping.

Contents: Negotiating new air pollutant ceilings. Overhaul of EU air quality policy announced. Potential for cuts in the non road sector. EU voting on new climate target for 2020. IPCC: Huge potential for renewable energy. Ship pollution causes 50,000 deaths per year. Call for new approach to nitrogen management.

Implementing the stricter ship fuel sulphur standard of 0.1 per cent in the Baltic Sea and the North Sea, is estimated to save up to 16,000 lives per year in the EU in 2020.

Contents: How to avoid critical levels of climate change. GHGs must peak by 2015. MEPS call for binding energy efficiency target. New analysis of NECs. EU consults on marine fuels. Feature: coal in Europe. Intercontinental transport of air pollutants

Contents: High costs of delaying NEC directive revision (editorial). Big benefits in ship fuel action. Renewables industry –we can power the EU! 1.5° tough, but doable. New emission ceilings for 2020 underway. Agreement on Industrial Emissions.

Contents: Shipping must pay its bill (editorial). Particles killing half a million. Roadmap for 2050 offers low-carbon Europe for free. Ozone, plants and climate - views and news. The poor legacy of Copenhagen. NOx sources in the UK: the story behind the figures. Go slower to go greener

Contents: The right to clean air (Editorial) Cutting NOx emissions - the Norwegian way. Renewables can power the world. Success and failures in pollution abatement. Billion dollar benefits from new air standards. Supergrid paves the way for windpower. GHG reductions will bring health benefits.

Contents: Copenhagen checklist (editorial). The world at +4oC. Dirty dozen - the most polluting power plants. Countries lagging behind – NEC directive follow-up. Boreal forests in peril. Tar sand – destructive developments. Warming speeds up. Make ships pay for their emissions.

Contents: Bring them in (editorial). Most rich Kyoto countries off track. Island states call for action. Air quality exemptions questioned. Cleaner ship fuels may save 45,000 lives. Shipping climate policy drifting. Industrial emissions legislation watered down. Still high ozone levels. Pollution treaty to be revised.
Factsheet: High noon for +2ºC.

Contents: Europe needs Emission Control Areas (editorial). Cleaner ship fuels to save lives. Ships pollute half as much as world's cars. Cut CO2 emissions from ships. GHG emissions increasing. Particles - small but dangerous. New industrial emissions directive under way. Dirty thirty list. Air quality compliance postponed. CO2 emissions from cars.

Contents: Enforcement is the key (Editorial). 16 states exceed emisson limits. Petrol vapour recovery to become mandatory. Strong – and weak, The EU climate package. One per cent will do. Ecosystems under threat. The top-ten list of European polluters. Ocean acidification – the other CO2 problem. Stricter EU standards.

Content: Still possible to stay below 2°C, Industrial air pollution cost up to €169 billion, Moving towards stricter ship sulphur standards, Countdown for Energy Efficiency Directive, Gothenburg Protocol soon to be agreed, Twelve countries exceed NEC directive limits, Climate hotspots

No. 2, June 2012

Content: New Gothenburg Protocol adopted, New Danish energy agreement, Welcome to the golden age of fracking, Biggest environmental cause of mortality, The arrival of a new EU sulphur law, Ozone levels still much too high, Pollution from traffic kills 5000 a year in UK

Contents: Management or protection of boreal forest?. Emission source shift, from land to sea. Smarter structure for energy taxation. Finding ambition levels for a revised protocol. Coal-fired plants hinder German climate targtes. Sulphur emissions from shipping to be slashed. California rules give great benefits.

Content: Progress in EU air policy review, China: New standards for power plants, Slow steaming saves money and the climate, Climate policy for the agricultural sector, Opinion: Ten one-liners for air policy, F-gases still a problem, New CO2 standards for cars and vans

Content: The costs of  climate change, Is air quality in Europe getting any better?, Great potential for  changing behaviour, EU greenhouse gases fell by 2.5% in 2011, The Climate Bonus, Cleaner ship fuels will dominate in 2020, Arctic shipping threatens environment

Content: Small chimneys – big emissions, Running out of time – the LCPD bites at last, Progress too slow in transport sector, Revising EU air pollution policy, Nitrogen overload still harms ecosystems, Scope for reducing ammonia emissions, Tailwind for wind

Content: Finding the ambition level for NEC, significant cuts in carbon within reach in the Nordic-Baltic region, call for international nitrogen framework, stricter US standards for road vehicles proposed, shipping should cut GHGs and air pollutants, stricter rules for machinery on the way, CCS sidelined by tenuous financing

Content: Warming can be limited to 1.5°C,  Shale gas has lost lustre, Agreement on equity issues essential, Shipping air pollution costs €60 billion per year, US: air pollution causes 210,000 deaths a year, High potential to cut air pollution from LCPs, More food less climate change

Content: Proposal not enough to meet ship CO2 target, Global roadmap for less-polluting vehicles, Livestock behind 7.1 gigatonne GHGs, Global warming unequivocal, Anti-coal movement in Europe is growing and Energy, climate and air quality policy synergies

Content: A new EU clean air strategy up to 2030, Banking on coal, Ships should use advanced monitoring, CCS in Norway, Oceans acidify at unprecedented rate, Stricter standards for non-EU power plants, EU climate and energy targets for 2030

Content: 150 ways to cut GHG emissions, IMO weakens NOx rules for ships, A changing climate creates pervasive risks, Hidden costs make coal expensive, Diet shifts could reduce nitrogen pollution, SCR can cut ship NOx emissions and Europe’s biggest polluters

Content: Air pollution still harms ecosystems, The fair share of climate responsability, Proposal for coal phase-out in Germany, UK brought to court on bad air qualty, Sustainable food choices, New figures on global ship emissions, Carbon dioxide concentration surges

Content: NRMM proposal low in ambition late in timing, Wind energy – so much potential, Many loopholes in testing system, IPCC : delaying action implies higher costs, Biogas from manure, Air quality targets much cheaper than expected, Leave fossil gas in the ground

Content: Industrial air pollution cost €189 billion/year, Norwegian CCS ambitions might move to the EU, Enforcement of ship sulphur standards, Launch of Energy Union – mixed messages, East German lignite at a crossroads, Achieving NEC targets will cost less

Content: Cities’ air quality efforts ranked, France: 100% renewables as cheap as 50% nuclear, Danish farming futures, Ship scrubbers questioned, New draft EU coal limits weaker than in China, Sweden without gas

Content: Environment MEPs want stricter air pollutant caps, Exposing the role of coal in Europe - launch of European Coal Map, Pledges for the 2015 UN climate agreement, 140 000 life-years lost each year in London, Film: 1,5 stay alive

Content: The costs of melting Permafrost, Tipping points - no safe limit, Diesel cars will continue to exceed emission limits, Cut agricultural ammonia emissions, Legally binding phase-out law for coal.

A 1.5 target is needed to save the Baltic Sea, CCS in Norway, Member states weaken NEC targets, EU without an energy strategy to fulfil Paris agreement, Nitrogen on the table, Harmful air pollution, The polluter-pays principle or the polluterprofits principle?

Ecosystems more sensitive than previously thought

Three-quarters of EU ecosystems are currently exposed to more nitrogen deposition than they can cope with and nearly one-tenth is receiving too much acid fallout.

Content: Paris changes everything, Paths to a sustainable agricultural system, Coal kills across borders, A phase-out plan for coal in Europe, New watered-down EU air pollution targets, Many ways to cut ship NOx emissions, OECD warns of rising
costs of air pollution



Content: IMO confirrms 2020 date, End derogations for polluting coal plants, A Europe powered only with renewable energy, Climate target for agriculture, Air pollution costs trillions, Germany's slow decarbonisation, Unique oppurtunity for Ukraine

EU ship fuel sulphur standards are to be aligned with international standards, meaning that the global limit should come down to 0.5 per cent in 2020, and the stricter limit applied in sulphur emission control areas is to be further lowered to 0.1 per cent in 2015.

On 15 July the European Commission tabled a proposal for stricter control of harmful sulphur emissions from international shipping. The proposal incorporates global standards that were unanimously agreed three years ago by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) into EU law.

Environment Commissioner Janez Poto?nik said: "This proposal is an important step forward in reducing air emissions from the fast-growing maritime transport sector. It will help resolve the persistent air quality problems that continue to affect millions of Europeans."

With nearly half of Europe's population living in areas where EU air quality objectives are still not met, air pollution is one of the main environmental worries facing citizens.

European emissions of sulphur dioxide (SO2) from land-based sources have decreased significantly over the past 20-30 years. Without further action, ship emissions around Europe could exceed the total of EU land-based emissions by 2020, according to current trends (see Fig. 1).

Figure 1: Projected SO2 and NOx emissions for 2020 from EU land-based sources and from international shipping in European sea areas in the absence of additional control measures (kilotonnes).

Ships traditionally use heavy fuel oil with a sulphur content of up to 4.5 per cent for propulsion (although the global average ship fuel sulphur content is around 2.7 per cent), compared with an EU limit of 0.001 per cent for road fuels.

The proposed legislation revises an existing EU directive on the sulphur content of certain liquid fuels and incorporates the 2008 IMO standards into EU law to ensure their proper and harmonised enforcement by all EU member states. It will also improve the effectiveness of the IMO standards as they would be monitored and enforced under the EU regime, which is more effective than the international system.

Under the proposal, the maximum permissible sulphur content of marine fuels used in designated Sulphur Emission Control Areas (SECA), namely the Baltic Sea and the North Sea including the English Channel, will fall from the previous level of 1.5 per cent to 0.1 per cent, as of 1 January 2015. In other sea areas, a sulphur limit of 0.5 per cent will apply as from 1 January 2020, as compared to the previous maximum level of 4.5 per cent (see Fig. 2).

Figure 2: International standards for the maximum allowed sulphur content of marine fuels (per cent).

By extending the stricter 0.1 per cent sulphur standard to passenger ships outside of SECAs from 2020, the proposal goes beyond what is required by the IMO.

As an alternative to using low-sulphur fuels, ships will be allowed to use equivalent technologies such as exhaust gas cleaning systems or alternative fuels such as liquefied natural gas (LNG).

According to the Commission, this equivalence option will significantly lower compliance costs (by 50-88 per cent) and help promote innovative solutions.

The expected cost to the shipping industry of the new standards is between €2.6 billion and 11 billion per year in 2020, but these costs are far outweighed by public health savings of up to €34 billion/year. In addition, there are significant benefits related to environmental improvements, such as reduced acidification damage to ecosystems.

The lower bound of costs is based on ships fitting exhaust cleaning techniques (scrubbers), while the upper bound assumes a fuel switch to lower-sulphur distillates.

According to the Commission's Impact Assessment, the health benefits associated with full implementation of the IMO's 2008 standards are at least between €3 and €13 for every €1 spent, and the benefits are even greater for the SECAs, at least between €5 and €25 for every €1 spent.

The results of a public consultation showed that the overwhelming majority of respondents wanted more European sea areas to be designated as SECAs. Green groups want it for the much needed health and environmental benefits, and several industry groups – especially Nordic ones – want it on the grounds that an EU-wide SECA would address intra-sectoral competition issues.

While the Commission concludes that such an extension of the SECA coverage is likely to offer net benefits and address competitiveness concerns, it does not have the competence to propose this to the IMO – any such proposals must come from member states bordering the sea area in question. The same applies to designation of nitrogen oxides (NOx) Emission Control Areas. (There are currently no NOx ECAs in Europe, but the whole coastline around the USA and Canada – out to 200 nautical miles – has been designated as a combined SO2/NOx ECA.)

There have also been calls to introduce ship emissions standards for nitrogen oxides (NOx) and particulate matter (PM) into EU law. The Commission's response is that this could be considered in the future, and that it will continue to support member states in developing proposals for additional ECAs and emission limit values for submission to the IMO.

Experience with the implementation of existing legislation has shown that there is a need for a stronger monitoring and enforcement regime. In response to this, the proposal includes a more unified reporting and verification procedure, and sampling provisions aligned with international standards.

Fuel quality impacts not only the environment but is also important for ship safety, and the Commission concludes that "ultimately there may be a role for establishing mandatory fuel quality standards for marine fuels placed on the market in the EU", as this would help guarantee that the fuel actually conforms to the recognised international standards.

Responding to concerns from some industry groups about the expected increase in shipping costs, Transport Commissioner Siim Kallas said: "Transposing into EU law the standards unanimously agreed in the IMO would be a step towards further improving the sustainability of waterborne transport. I am very glad that the proposal includes a variety of short and medium-term accompanying measures to help the sector face this challenge".

The Commission's Impact Assessment suggests that the European Commission and member states use and adapt existing public support instruments to assist industry in the transition towards the new standards, especially the SECA limit. This could include financial support to invest in new technologies such as exhaust gas cleaning systems and support wider supply and uptake of LNG as a fuel for ships.

The Commission have made it clear, however, that a delay in the 2015 SECA limit – as has been suggested by some industry groups – is not an option, neither at EU level nor attempting to push for a delay at the IMO.

Air pollutant emissions from ships have been estimated to cause 50,000 premature deaths a year in Europe, as well respiratory illnesses, aggravation of heart disease, and acidification of sensitive ecosystems with subsequent damage to biological diversity.

Not surprisingly, environmental organisations welcome the Commission's proposal: "With many ships using fuel over 3,500 times dirtier than car fuel we are pleased to finally see EU action on air pollution from ships," said Bill Hemmings from Transport & Environment.

However, the environmental organisations say that more should be done, and are calling on EU legislators to extend the stricter SECA sulphur standard of 0.1 per cent to all European seas.

With the current proposal this limit will apply only to the North Sea and the Baltic Sea, while ships operating in the Mediterranean (which accounts for more than half of European ship emissions), in the North-eastern Atlantic and in the Black Sea will be exempt from this standard. Moreover, the same strict standard (0.1%) should also apply to all cruise and passenger ships as from 2015.

Nitrogen oxides emissions from ships are also great a concern, say the environmental organisations, but there are still no EU standards or EU measures in place for controlling their release.

Christer Ågren

The Commission proposal can be found at:

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