London, 4th April 2014 – The International Maritime Organisation (IMO) has abandoned the fixed start date of 2016 for the fitting on ships of advanced (Tier III) equipment for use in NOx emission control areas (NECAs), giving in to Russian political pressure and endangering the health of Europeans.

London, 4th April 2014 – The International Maritime Organisation (IMO) has abandoned the fixed start date of 2016 for the fitting on ships of advanced (Tier III) equipment for use in NOx emission control areas (NECAs), giving in to Russian political pressure and endangering the health of Europeans.

The new agreement, reached today in London by the IMO's Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC 66), secures the 2016 start date for ships sailing in currently designated NECAs (there are two existing, both in North America), but allows a later start date for fitting the equipment on ships that will sail in NECAs designated in the future.

The “Tier III” equipment allows an 80% cut in nitrogen oxides, and brings very substantial health and environmental benefits. The IMO’s NOx regulations were adopted unanimously in 2008. Last year an IMO expert group studied the availability of Tier III compliant equipment and concluded that there was no need for delaying the 2016 application date for the fitting of these technologies to new ships that wanted to sail in existing or new NECAs.

It is at present unclear whether this new agreement will increase the chances of new NECAs being agreed, but it will certainly reduce their effectiveness, as fewer ships will be required to use the Tier III equipment in future NECAs. To help mitigate this negative impact Seas At Risk and other NGOs are calling on Baltic Sea and North Sea states to quickly come forward with proposals for the establishment of NECAs in the Baltic and North Seas.

The Clean Shipping Coalition criticised the fact that the IMO meeting focused on the impact of the NOx regulation on industry, while only minimal concern was given to the very real environmental and human health benefits that will be lost by the delayed implementation dates for new NECAs.

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