The United Kingdom has declared emissions from shipping a major determinant of air quality as it seeks feedback on the implementation of European Union (EU) rules on sulfur content of marine fuel.
The draft regulation would align government rules with regulation contained in the International Maritime Organisation (IMO)'sMARPOL Annex VI, including setting a 0.1 percent limit on sulfur content of fuel for ships operating within emissions control areas (ECAs) starting next year and implementing a 0.5 percent cap outside ECAs starting in 2020.
"It is clear that shipping related to the EU is having a significant impact on the atmosphere," the Environmental Policy Branch of the UK Maritime and Coastguard Agency said in a statement.
"Likewise, as the UK is an island nation surrounded by major shipping routes, emissions from shipping are a major determinant of air quality in the UK."
Maritime emissions have not been addressed in other pollution control efforts, while land-based sources have come under greater scrutiny, meaning that the shipping sector will be responsible for more than half of EU sulfur emissions by 2020 if no further action is taken.
The UK Chamber of Shipping has argued that the emissions rules could hurt the nation's ability to compete internationally and drive customers to road and rail transportation.