Press Release: At a conference held this Tuesday – that initially was planned to be held in the European Parliament – experts, politicians and environmentalists discussed how to safeguard better air quality around the Mediterranean Sea. It became clear that the agreed timeline to implement a Mediterranean Emission Control Area (MedECA) for ships lacks in tempo and scope of content. While other Emission Control Areas implemented already in 2015 now will also cover nitrogen oxide emissions the plan for the Mediterranean foresees only sulphur dioxide and will not be effective before 2024.
Catherine Chabaud, Member of EU Parliament called for stricter regulation of emissions from ships. “There should be an Emission Control Area for sulphur and nitrogen dioxide not only for the Mediterranean Sea but for all European water.” European maritime industry could even benefit from stricter regulation by delivering technologies to become cleaner and more energy efficient. She added that strict regulation could be a competitive advantage.
Impact assessments presented at NABU’s conference demonstrate that slightly elevated costs for higher quality fuel will be out passed by health benefits only. Moreover less crop loss and damage to buildings will also pay back economically while shipped products would not change in price noticeably.
“Shipping is the main source of air pollution in many places around the Medi-terranean Sea. The high loads of toxic gases harm the environment and the health of people. Moreover they damage heritage buildings and vegetation. It is absolutely intolerable that people around the Mediterranean Sea have to wait for fresh air while northern Europe as well as China and North America already forced the industry to switch to cleaner fuels. This step moreover in-centivises new technologies that help to reduce air pollutant but also climate emissions. The presented studies show clearly that Europe will benefit eco-nomically and environmentally.” states Sönke Diesener, Transport Policy Offi-cer at NABU and coordinator of the MedECA NGO network.
The French government and the EU Commission commissioned further studies that not only back up the need for a comprehensive Emission Control Area in the Mediterranean Sea but already show further needs to decrease air pollution. Forthcoming studies will also show that there is almost no chance for rerouting and also very, very impact low impact on freight rates and chance for shift of transport mode.
There is a roadmap in place to designate the Mediterranean Sea an Emission Control Area for sulphur dioxide only. This is already a step forward to improve air quality. The process among all littoral states has to be brought forward but should not hinder to already talk about the next necessary steps including climate protection measures. Activists and environmentalists demand their local authorities to already do what they can to bring down pollution levels by regulation in ports and coastal areas. Regulatory measures and technical solutions are available but lack implementation. If regulation puts a price on pollution be it air pollutants or green house gases the technical hurdles are comparatively low to solve problems in just a few years from now.
The online conference organised by NABU, Cittadini per l’Aria, France Nature Environnement, Ecologistas en Accíon, BirdLife Malta and the Hellenic Ornithological Society was well attended. Around 150 attendees from all over Europe participated in the event.