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Transport & Environment

Emissions from Maritime Transport

ShipThe Commission strategy to reduce atmospheric emissions from seagoing ships

In November 2002, the European Commission adopted a European Union strategy to reduce atmospheric emissions from seagoing ships. The strategy reports on the magnitude and impact of ship emissions in the EU and sets out a number of actions to reduce the contribution of shipping to acidification, ground-level ozone, eutrophication, health, climate change and ozone depletion.  The Strategy documents comprised a Commission Communication to the Parliament and Council and an accompanying proposal for a Directive on the sulphur content of certain liquid fuels. See also this press release and presentation (pdf ~250K).

As part of the co-decision procedure that took place between 2003 and 2005, the European Parliament concluded the first reading on the legislative proposal in June 2003. Click here to see the amendments adopted. In December 2003 the EU Institutions finalised positions on Commission ship emissions strategy:

In June 2004 - Council agreed common position on marine fuel sulphur and in April 2005 - European Parliament finalised the Directive in second reading agreement. Finally, in July 2005 the Directive 2005/33 as regards the sulphur content of certain liquid fuels was published in the EU Official Journal L191. Its first provisions (including the Baltic Sea and passenger vessel 1.5% fuel sulphur limit) will apply from 11 August 2006. For details see press release from second reading agreement.

October 2005 - The following six consultancy reports have been finalised under the Commission's 2005 ship emissions contract:

NB Erratum to SOX report: CONCAWE have drawn to our attention that the above report on SOX abatement refers in several locations to data concerning costs of desulphurising heavy fuel oil that they provided. CONCAWE advise that they did not provide any such data as input to this report, and that they have not published any recent independent cost data on desulphurisation of heavy fuel oil. However in this note of March 2005, CONCAWE did suggest a more credible cost distribution between the different desulphurization levels than that contained in previous reports for the Commission by Beicip Franlab.

The reports find that it is feasible to assign ship emissions to member states, using various different methodologies; that there is a wide range of ship emissions abatement options which can be very cost-effective compared to reducing emissions from land-based industry, and that using economic instruments rather than regulation to promote these techniques could further improve cost-effectiveness for shipping.

May 2007 - A study for the Commission by IIASA has explored the cost effectiveness of measures with different ambition levels to reduce air emissions from maritime transport. The report and its appendices demonstrate that the reduction of these emissions can be substantially lower than the costs of additional controls for land-based sources with the same effect on health and environment.

January 2007 - The following consultancy report on Greenhouse Gas emissions for shipping and implementation guidance for the marine fuel sulphur Directive has been finalised.

Click on Background information for links to the studies and consultations which have informed policy development in this field.

In 2008 DG Environment launched a study to provide the Commission's services with technical input to support the development of a policy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from maritime transport. The study which was carried out by a consortium lead by CE Delft has been finalised in December 2009 and the report can be found below.

2008 – 2011: Review of Directive 1999/32/EC

In March 2011 a Commission Staff Working Paper on" the implementation of EU Air Quality Policy and preparing for its comprehensive review" was published. This document outlines the future development of ship emissions policy in the wider frame of air quality policy development.