The European Parliament approved stricter limits on the sulfur content of shipping fuels; the new general limits are to be in place by 2020.
The new rules will bring European legislation in line with limits agreed to by the International Maritime Organization (IMO). The general sulfur limit for fuels in European seas will fall from 3.5% to 0.5% by 2020, after MEPs insisted on deleting provisions that would have allowed the deadline to be postponed by five years.
Fuel used in the Baltic Sea, North Sea and English Channel—Europe’s sulfur emission control areas (SECAs)—will need to meet the new international standard of 0.1% by 2015 (from 1% currently).
The limits can be met by using cleaner fuels or technology, such as scrubbers, that can deliver an equivalent result.
As part of its review of air quality legislation, the legislation asks the European Commission to consider extending the stricter SECA limits to all EU territorial waters, i.e. within 12 nautical miles of the coastline.