From 1 January 2020 a global regulation will substantially reduce harmful sulphur oxide (SOx) emissions from ships.
The upper limit on the sulphur content of ships’ fuel oil will be reduced to 0.50% (from 3.50%). Known as “IMO 2020”, the reduced limit is mandatory for all ships operating outside certain designated Emission Control Areas, where the limit is already 0.10%.
According to the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) the new limit will mean a 77% drop in overall SOx emissions from ships, equivalent to an annual reduction of approximately 8.5 million metric tonnes of SOx. Particulate matter, tiny harmful particles which form when fuel is burnt, will also be reduced.
Cutting sulphur emissions from ships, says the IMO, will also help prevent acid rain and ocean acidification.
The new limit is part of the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution form ships (MARPOL), a key environmental treaty under the auspices of the International Maritime Organization
IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim said, “For the past three years, IMO Member States, the shipping industry and fuel oil suppliers have been working tirelessly to prepare for this major change in the sulphur content of ships’ fuel oil. I am confident that the benefits will soon be felt and that implementation will be smooth.”