Russia blocked Baltic Sea NOx ECA application

When environment ministers of the Baltic Sea countries came together at a HELCOM meeting in Copenhagen in early October, it was anticipated that they would finally agree to proceed with the designation of the Baltic Sea as a NOx Emission Control Area (NECA) under the MARPOL Convention of the International Maritime Organization (IMO).

A principal agreement on the issue was reached back in 2010, and all the preparatory groundwork, including a final application text, has been in place since late 2011. Moreover, a draft ministerial declaration was prepared, saying that an application for NOx ECA designation should be sent to the IMO so that it could be considered at its forthcoming session in early April 2014.

But Russia firmly blocked any such moves. After lengthy negotiations the meeting concluded by recalling the earlier commitment regarding the designation, i.e. that the application to the IMO would be submitted at some undecided time in the future. Paradoxically, it was also stressed that the achievement of a Baltic Sea unaffected by eutrophication relies on additional emission reduction efforts by the shipping sector.

Sources: HELCOM press release, 3 October 2013 and Miljörapporten Direkt, 4 October 2013.

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