Labour supports plans to clean up air quality on our coasts

Air pollution from shipping is currently estimated to cause 50,000 premature deaths a year across the EU. Labour Euro MPs today voted to support EU-wide legislation – agreed with the International Maritime Organisation – to reduce sulphur coming from ships.

Under the legislation,  from 2015 ships will have to use fuel with a 0.1% sulphur content  in waters which have already been designated Sulphur Emission Control Areas at the International Maritime Organisation (the IMO) – this includes the North Sea, the Channel and the Baltic Sea. In all other waters, the sulphur limit will be reduced to 0.5% by 2020.

“Ship fuel is currently one of the dirtiest fuels on the planet,” said Local Euro MP, Arlene McCarthy “Even after these regulations come in, the new fuel is 100 times dirtier in terms of sulphur than car fuel”. 

“This level of death from diseases like asthma, bronchitis, heart failure and other respiratory illness is completely unacceptable in 2012.   

“This agreement is good news for the North West’s coastal areas. Pollution from ships can travel long distances inland, therefore the effect of reducing sulphur emissions from ship will improve air quality in the UK. This in turn will have health benefits, reducing respiratory illnesses and heart disease. ” 

Today’s “Sulphur in Marine Fuels Directive” was set to pass its first reading with the votes of a majority of Euro MPs and support from the EU’s 27 Government.

The Directive incorporates into EU law the commitments that were agreed with the IMO.  Back in 2008, the UK and all other member countries of the International Maritime Organisation agreed on the stricter limits for sulphur in shipping fuels.

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