Apr 18, 2008

International Shipping set to become cleaner and greener

International shipping set to become cleaner and greener

MEDIA RELEASE – The Hon Anthony Albanese MP

Minister for Infrastructure, Transport,

Regional Development and Local Government

Leader of the House

Member for Grayndler

April 18 2008

The Rudd Labor Government welcomes the breakthrough achieved by the international community in its efforts to slash by up to 90 per cent the shipping industry’s emissions of harmful, acid rain causing pollutants.

The International Maritime Organisation’s (IMO) Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) has reached a historic, unanimous decision to further reduce sulphur levels in the fuel used by ships.

The IMO has agreed to a progressive reduce in the global cap on sulphur content in marine fuel from the current 4.5 per cent to 0.5 per cent by 2020.

Put simply, marine fuels containing smaller amounts of sulphur produce fewer emissions of sulphur oxide – a cause of acid rain and 60,000 premature deaths worldwide each year, particularly amongst people with respiratory illnesses.

The international shipping industry, which carries around 90 per cent of world trade by volume on about 50,000 merchant vessels, accounts for about 6 to 12 per cent of global sulphur oxide emissions.

The IMO’s new marine fuel quality standards will achieve significant public health and environmental benefits.

The decision is also balanced. It delivers cleaner fuel while giving oil refineries the time and certainty to make the necessary operational changes.

Importantly, the proposed implementation date of 2020 for the final stage of the global cap – subject to a review in 2018 – allows time for the issues surrounding availability of the new cleaner marine fuel to be addressed.

The new marine fuel quality standards are likely to be ratified at the October meeting of the MEPC. Speaking at the close of last week’s meeting, IMO Secretary-General Efthimios E. Mitropoulos said: “It will certainly be one of IMO’s finest hours when this happens six months from now.”

But there is little time to celebrate this achievement. To appreciate the need for urgency you only need consider this: sulphur oxides emissions from ships are 213 times those from all cars and 97 times those from the aviation sector.

Under the Rudd Labor Government, Australia is playing a positive and active role in international organisations, such as IMO, as a means of both protecting our national interest and advancing global action on collective challenges.