There is a fervent on-going debate between shipowners and relevant stakeholders about the upcoming low sulphur standards coming in effect January 1st, 2015 in ECAs. Many shipowners feel the new sulphur standards will cause a financial loss on their businesses as they will have to invest in new technologies or turn to more expensive fuels with lower sulphur. They also feel that although they are presented with several alternate solutions (LNG as fuel, scrubbers, biofuels…), this is only a façade and their only true option today is MGO.
One feels, however, that in the midst of this debate centering on money, the real reason IMO implemented this regulation is being forgotten: health risks. There is a very interesting article on acidnews dated from June 2011 about actual figures of the consequences of pollutants from ships’ air emissions. Citing a research conducted by the Danish Centre of Energy, Environment and Health (CEEH), the article claims that air pollutant emissions in the year 2000 caused 49 500 premature deaths in Europe, and was responsible for health damages of around € 22 billion.
These numbers are not stated often enough, and really need to be pushed forward so that everyone understands the reasons behind the MARPOL Annex VI regulations.
However, these numbers must not obscure the difficulties shipowners will face in complying with the sulphur standards. Shipping companies facing financial difficulties in results of the regulations will most likely have to compensate elsewhere (i.e reducing trade routes, layoffs…).
Therefore, a neutral platform uniting all relevant stakeholders is now a necessity. Taking place October 18th 2012 in Riga, this is exactly what MARPOL Annex VI Summit is promising to be.
Looking forward to seeing you in Riga!
Thomas Igou, Project Manager, MARPOL Annex VI Summit 2012
Link to article: http://www.airclim.org/acidnews/2011/an2-11.php#twelve