Dirty ships

The EU has finalised important legislation to cut sulphur dioxide and particle emissions from ships.


The EU has finalised important legislation to cut sulphur dioxide (SO2) and particle emissions from ships.


Marine fuel currently contains on average 2.7%, or 27,000 parts per million (ppm), of sulphur, compared with petrol for cars, which will have 10 ppm sulphur content from 2007.


The new law will limit the sulphur content of marine fuels to 1.5% for ships in the North and the Baltic Sea as well as for ferries everywhere in the EU.


The result will be that SO2 emissions from ships in the EU will be reduced by over 500,000 tonnes a year from 2006.


However, some feel that the legislation could have been stricter. “This is a wasted chance for cleaner air in Europe“, says Kerstin Meyer from the European Environmental Bureau (EEB).


“Ship emissions could be reduced much further at very low cost. Air pollution causes severe environmental and health damage all over the EU,” added Meyer.


The EEB ‘s criticism is that two main elements are lacking in the legislation: sulphur limits for marine fuel are not applied in the Mediterranean or the North East Atlantic and there is no second step to further reduce the sulphur content of marine fuels to 0.5%.