Although air pollution from ships does not have the direct cause and effect associated with, for example, an oil spill incident, it causes a cumulative effect that contributes to the overall air quality problems encountered by populations in many areas, and also affects the natural environment, such as though acid rain.
MARPOL Annex VI, first adopted in 1997, limits the main air pollutants contained in ships exhaust gas, including sulphur oxides (SOx) and nitrous oxides (NOx), and prohibits deliberate emissions of ozone depleting substances. MARPOL Annex VI also regulates shipboard incineration, and the emissions of volatile organic compounds from tankers.
Following entry into force of
MARPOL Annex VI on 19 May 2005, Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC), at its 53rd session (July 2005), agreed to revise MARPOL Annex VI with the aim of significantly strengthening the emission limits in light of technological improvements and implementation experience. As a result of three years examination, MEPC 58 (October 2008) adopted the revised MARPOL Annex VI and the associated NOx Technical Code 2008, which entered into force on
1 July 2010.
Revised MARPOL Annex VI
The main changes to MARPOL Annex VI are a progressive reduction globally in emissions of SOx, NOx and particulate matter and the introduction of emission control areas
(ECAs) to reduce emissions of those air pollutants further in designated sea areas.
Under the revised MARPOL Annex VI, the global sulphur cap is reduced initially to 3.50% (from the current 4.50%), effective from
1 January 2012; then progressively to 0.50 %, effective from
1 January 2020, subject to a feasibility review to be completed no later than 2018. The limits applicable in ECAs for SOx and particulate matter were reduced to 1.00%, beginning on 1 July 2010 (from the original 1.50%); being further reduced to 0.10 %, effective from 1 January 2015.
Progressive reductions in NOx emissions from marine diesel engines installed on ships are also included, with a “Tier II” emission limit for engines installed on or after 1 January 2011; then with a more stringent "Tier III" emission limit for engines installed on or after
1 January 2016 operating in ECAs. Marine diesel engines installed on or after 1 January 1990 but prior to 1 January 2000 are required to comply with “Tier I” emission limits, if an approved method for that engine has been certified by an Administration.
The revised NOx Technical Code 2008 includes a new chapter based on the agreed approach for regulation of existing (pre-2000) engines established in MARPOL Annex VI, provisions for a direct measurement and monitoring method, a certification procedure for existing engines, and test cycles to be applied to Tier II and Tier III engines.
Revisions to the regulations for ozone-depleting substances, volatile organic compounds, shipboard incineration, reception facilities, and fuel oil quality have been made with regulations on fuel oil availability added.
The revised measures are expected to have a significant beneficial impact on the atmospheric environment and on human health, particularly for those people living in port cities and coastal communities.