Call to extend stricter fuel standards
A ship fuel sulphur limit of 0.1 per cent should be extended to apply to all territorial waters of EU member states up to 12 nautical miles (22 km) from their coasts, according to Finnish MEP Satu Hassi, the European Parliament's rapporteur on the sulphur-in-fuels directive.
Under the international standards adopted by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) in 2008, the 0.1 per cent sulphur limit will apply only in designated Sulphur Emission Control Areas (SECAs), and so far SECAs in Europe are limited to the Baltic Sea and the North Sea, including the English Channel.
In July, the European Commission presented a proposal to revise the directive regulating sulphur in petroleum fuels, primarily to align EU legislation on ship fuel sulphur with the 2008 IMO standards.
The rapporteur welcomes and supports the Commission's proposal, and stresses that the IMO standards will apply even if no new EU legislation is enacted. However, she points out that the directive could clarify and standardise the implementation and monitoring of the IMO standards, level the playing field for competition, facilitate the transition stage and encourage innovations.
But the Commission's proposal does not go far enough, Hassi argues. Apart from extending the 0.1 per cent sulphur limit to all territorial waters, she proposes that the 0.1 per cent sulphur limit for passenger ships should come into force from 2015, i.e. at the same time as this limit will apply in SECAs. The Commission wants the passenger ship limit to apply only from 2020.
"These amendments would make it possible to achieve significant health and environmental benefits and would also create a level playing field as regards the cost impacts of reform," Hassi writes in the draft report.
Hassi also wants the Commission to explore, by the end of 2013, the establishment of new sulphur and nitrogen oxide emission control areas in Europe, as well as methods for further reducing emissions.
Moreover, she proposes the facilitation of the use of state aid for investment, because she believes that "during the transition period some operators will have to bear significant additional costs, particularly in the case of journeys undertaken mainly or largely in SECAs".
The granting of more state aid is justified, she says, since cutting ships' air pollutant emissions will provide "major economic benefit for the public sector owing to the accompanying reduction in health expenditure".
The draft parliament report, prepared by Hassi, was presented to the parliament's environment committee on 22 November, and a vote in the committee is scheduled for 24 January.
The draft report can be downloaded from: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/meetdocs/2009_2014/documents/envi/pr/882/882049/882049en.pdf
Satu Hassi proposes that the 0.1 per cent sulphur limit for passenger ships should
come into force from 2015, i.e. at the same time as this limit will apply in SECAs. Photo: Jim Crossley /Creative Commons