Two New Emission Control Areas (ECAs) Support A Global Carbon Emissions Levy in the Shipping Sector

7th May 2024

Two fresh Emission Control Areas (ECAs) have garnered support from the International Maritime Organisation's Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC 81), marking a significant step towards implementing a global carbon emissions tax within the shipping industry. MEPC 81, convened recently in London, greenlit the establishment of two distinct ECAs: one in Canadian Arctic Waters targeting nitrogen oxides, sulphur oxides, and particulate matter, and another in the Norwegian Sea addressing nitrogen oxides and sulphur oxides. These proposals are now poised for submission to MEPC 82 for final adoption.

Two New Emission Control Areas (ECAs) Support A Global Carbon Emissions Levy in the Shipping Sector

Dr. Sian Prior, Lead Advisor to the Clean Arctic Alliance, hailed the creation of these ECAs as a landmark decision for safeguarding the climate and ocean, especially in the vulnerable Arctic region. She expressed hope that this move would catalyse a widespread shift towards cleaner shipping practices, emphasising the potential of low-sulphur distillate fuels and other non-fossil alternatives to curb shipping-related climate pollutants.

In addition to curbing emissions of sulphur oxides and particulate matter, transitioning to cleaner fuels is expected to yield collateral benefits, including reductions in black carbon emissions, provided vessels opt for compliant fuels within the ECAs, particularly distillates.M

Alongside the approval of the ECAs, MEPC 81 also endorsed several other initiatives:

  • Approved new guidelines for the safe transport of plastic pellets in freight containers, encompassing stowage, packaging, and accurate transport/cargo documentation.
  • Provisionally supported a draft action plan aimed at mitigating underwater noise stemming from commercial shipping, with plans for further deliberation and final endorsement at MEPC 82.
  • Gave the nod to an updated roadmap for crafting guidelines pertaining to alternative fuels, including hydrogen and ammonia, as well as low flash-point fuels, and mandatory protocols for methyl/ethyl alcohols.
  • Sanctioned a list of provisions and instruments slated for revision and/or development under the Ballast Water Management Convention, and endorsed interim guidance regarding the application of the convention to vessels navigating in challenging water quality conditions. Additionally, approved guidance for the temporary storage of treated sewage and/or grey water in ballast water tanks.

There is a drive to move to other zones across the globe whereby a global carbon emissions tax in the shipping sector becomes a reality. Protea has a complete section focused on marine emissions found at

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