PRESS RELEASE: On Tuesday France presented the results of its impact assessment of a possible emission control area (ECA) in the Mediterranean Sea aimed at the reduction of harmful ship emissions. The findings shows that a combined ECA which addresses sulphur and nitrogen oxides at the same time has the greatest positive effect in terms of reduced air pollutant concentrations as well as corresponding socio-economic and ecological benefits. Environmentalists welcomed the report and renewed their call for the immediate designation of all European waters and particularly the Mediterranean Sea as emission control area for international shipping.
Sönke Diesener, transport policy officer at Germany-based organisation NABU said: “The results are unambiguous; an ECA would result in cleaner and healthier air for the residents in Mediterranean countries. Moreover, the effects for the economy will be positive. Every day six to ten thousand ships are operating in the region while they burn toxic heavy fuel oil. Now we need the cooperation of littoral states to facilitate a Mediterranean ECA at the International Maritime Organisation.”
Charlotte Lepitre, health policy officer at France Nature Environment added: “People in northern Europe are profiting since years from higher standards for marine fuels, improving their air quality. France is taking the lead on Mediterranean countries proposing to catch up and protect the citizen’s health, eco-systems and the cultural heritage. Especially as none of the industry’s horror stories of poor fuel availability or service and company shut downs became a reality following the introduction of an ECA in the North Sea or Baltic Sea. Such a step would also establish a coherent European legal framework that prevents market distortions and guarantees a level playing field.”
The impact assessment had been presented by France at the International Maritime Organisation during a side event of the Marine Environmental Protection Committee (MEPC) meeting while the full report will officially be published in the next days. The European Commission and the Regional Marine Pollution Emergency Response Centre for the Mediterranean Sea (REMPEC) are currently also commissioning respective studies to assess the impact of ECAs in the Mediterranean Sea. In a next step a coalition of Mediterranean countries will have to submit an application to the MEPC which asks for SOx, NOx and particle emission limits for international ships in the Mediterranean Sea.