Trade & investment

International Maritime Organization must set new pollution standards, ICC says

  • 12 February 2008

ICC’s Committee on Maritime Transport has called on the International Maritime Organization (IMO) to adopt new emissions standards for ships in the coming months.

Stricter global standards are urgently needed for the emission of nitrogen oxides (NOx) and for assessing technology to curb sulfur oxides (SOx) and particulates. These substances are known to contribute to acid raid, harm biodiversity on land and in coastal waters, and are major contributors to rising amounts of ground-level ozone.

ICC advised that measures to address greenhouse gas emissions from ships, particularly carbon dioxide (CO2), are also necessary. New, more effective environmental standards must also take into consideration fuel availability for ships.

The IMO, a UN agency charged with developing a regulatory framework for the world’s shipping industry, is in the final stages of reviewing ways to adopt tighter standards. But to avert the proliferation of regional and local emissions regulations, the IMO must act now, ICC urged. Otherwise, a patchwork of varying regulations would lead to operational difficulties, varying fuel standards, and higher costs across the board in the shipping industry, ICC warned.

Air pollution from oceangoing ships is one of the most important issues for the international maritime and port industries, especially in major ports and busy coastal areas.

IMO is looking to amend a treaty which entered into force in 2005 to reflect advances in technology and fuel standards. The current treaty, commonly referred to as MARPOL Annex VI, was ratified by countries representing three-quarters of the world’s large vessel tonnage. But even before the treaty was implemented, technology to lower NOx emissions below the treaty’s requirements and engine technology and low-sulfur fuels to further reduce emissions were already available, especially in ports and coastal areas.

ICC urged member states to wait until the IMO makes its amendments to the treaty, which ICC expects will set strict enough standards so that no further action will be required.

ICC’s Commission on Transport and Logistics groups shippers, carriers, intermediaries and ports to elaborate global business positions on market liberalization, competition and the environment.