Transport and Covid-19: responses and resources

Reducing Sulphur Emissions from Ships: The Impact of International Regulation

Reducing Sulphur Emissions from Ships cover image

Ships emit a large amount of sulphur oxides, with significant health impacts. To mitigate these, international regulations cap the sulphur content of ship fuel. They have also established emission control areas with stricter standards in certain parts of the world. New requirements introduced in 2015 limit the sulphur content of ship fuel to 0.1% in these emission control areas, and a lower global sulphur cap of 0.5% is planned for 2020. This report examines the impacts of the 2015 cap and potential effects of the new requirements foreseen for 2020. It assesses the cost increase for maritime transport associated with the sulphur caps, impacts on shipping operations as well as on other transport modes, and on the environment. The report also highlights policy gaps and challenges for the enforcement of sulphur emissions regulations for shipping.

Policy Insights

  • Harmonise requirements on maritime sulphur emissions with regard to compliance options.
  • Apply sanctions for non-compliance with sulphur emissions regulations for ships that are sufficiently dissuasive.
  • Inverse the burden of proof for compliance by prohibiting ships to carry heavy fuel oil except as cargo.

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