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Marine Log

February 7, 2007

ICS urges goals for ship emission cuts

The International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) is seekin g a new goal-based approach to reduction of air emissions from ships. It is calling for a holistic consideration of emission reduction measures.

The ICS paper builds on the conclusions of the last round of IMO technical discussions, held in Oslo in November, for consideration by the IMO Sub-Committee on Bulk Liquids and Gases (16-20 April).

The paper draws attention to the need to take account of the environmental justification for improvements proposed, and to consider fully the relationship between measures to reduce local air pollution, such as sulfur, and the subsequent implications for CO2/Green House Gas emissions. ICS believes that there should be choice with regard to compliance measures. In addition to reducing sulfur emissions, the ICS paper makes detailed suggestions about other aspects of the review including the reduction of emissions of nitrous oxides, particulate matter and volatile organic compounds.

ICS Secretary General, Tony Mason, explained:

"The industry consensus, following extensive debate within our committees, is that IMO should focus on the environmental outcome required, but should encourage different ways of achieving the agreed emission reduction goals. Technical innovation certainly needs to be stimulated but, where regulation requires technical solutions, we should ensure that proven and robust technology does in fact already exist. Above all, any new regulations should be aimed at delivering an overall net environmental benefit. We do not wish to solve one problem by creating another. Methods for reducing sulfur emissions should not inadvertently lead to an increase in greenhouse gas emissions, for example by generating additional CO2 from oil refineries.

'It might be the case that CO2 emissions from shipping, as opposed to shore based refineries, would not be increased by switching to distillate, but the responsible and honest approach is to suggest to the regulators that they consider the wider implications of their decisions and that the issues of sulfur and CO2 are linked."

Mr. Mason added:

"In principle, despite the considerable economic costs, we have no objection to a switch to distillate fuel for those shipowners who see this as the most practical solution but, depending on who pays the bills, it is far less attractive to some shipping sectors than others, and there are also big questions about the ability of the oil industry to deliver the quantities needed if the whole world fleet was required to burn distillate everywhere. The environmental impact of using low sulfur fuels far from land in the middle of the ocean also needs careful examination. The firm consensus amongst our members is that other compliance options, such as the extension of Sulfur Emission Control Areas, and abatement and exhaust scrubbing technology, should also be fully explored, before we settle for one single solution, the implications of which have not been properly evaluated."

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