The Ports of Antwerp and Rotterdam have joined voices with a number of ports, alongside the European Commission, in an attempt to prevent the delays to stricter emission reduction rules.
Founded in 2008, the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) legislative policy titled – MARPOL Annex VI was enforced as a means to set mandatory limits for the emissions of new build engines, specifically the production of Nitrogen oxide.
Tier III of the policy was originally expected to be set in place on January 1st 2016 and would involve the enforcement of NOx Emission Control Areas (NECAs) across Europe, whereby NOx emission levels would be reduced by a further 80 percent.
However, during the 65th Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) meeting held in May last year, Russia opted for a five-year delay to the proposed NECA in the Baltic Sea, pushing the start date back to 2021.
Poland, Estonia and Latvia have all offered their support to the proposed delay, airing concerns about the cost and availability of current NOx abatement fuels and technologies.
Several countries were also quick to air their opposition to the proposed delay; Germany, Denmark, Finland, Sweden, and now the ports of Antwerp, Belgium and Rotterdam, the Netherlands have joined the voices in support of the original 2016 date.
The European Commission (EC) has offered further support, releasing a memorandum in support of rejecting any delays.
In the memorandum, the EC suggests that environmental protection is largely regulated under competence of the EU treaty, and that the IMO must take common position against any delays that go against EU policy objectives.
The EC further this, quoting that the National Emissions Ceiling (NEC) directive, which regulates the emissions produced by shipping on inland waterways, which must be supported by all institutions of the EU “without prejudice.”
In conjunction with the Clean Air Quality package, put in place on the 18th December it was found that NOx emissions from ships, whether internal or trans-oceanic, had an influence on the “eutrophication of inland and marine waters and terrestrial habitats” and that failure to limit this would go against a series of directives enforced by the political body.
The committee asks that the EU legislate the original date for Tier III to come into force, therefore denying any one nation attempting to delay proceedings.
A meeting was held by the Coreper committee on Friday March 7th; after the memorandum was released, yet no deadline for the NECA policy was provided.
It is uncertain whether the Russian proposal will be rejected in time of the 66th meeting of the MEPC which is set to begin on the 31st of March this year and with the current Ukraine crisis looming in the shadows, it is uncertain as to whose voice will be heard the loudest.