Recognising the importance of air pollution as new environmental issue, the Contracting Parties to the Barcelona Convention adopted at COP 21 a roadmap developed in 2019 by REMPECoutlining concrete steps towards the possible future designation of the Mediterranean Sea, as a whole, as an Emission Control Area (Med ECA) for sulphur oxides (SOx) pursuant to MARPOL Annex VI, within the framework of the Barcelona Convention.


The roadmap was prepared on the basis of a technical and feasibility study to examine the possibility of designating the proposed Med ECA carried out by REMPEC between 2018 and 2019, which shows that setting a cap on sulphur content in ships fuel oil at 0.10% in the Mediterranean region would not only improve the environment by lowering the acidification of the water but also benefit the health of the inhabitants by reducing lung cancer and cardiovascular disease mortality and morbidity in the region.


Following the adoption of the roadmap, REMPEC has started taking concrete steps to prepare for the necessary knowledge gathering and further studies (e.g. economic impact, fuel supply and technology analyses, etc.), which will be carried out in a methodological approach and foreseen by the Technical Committee. The ongoing work aims at addressing all the criteria and procedures for designation of emission control areas laid down in Appendix III to MARPOL Annex VI. The work will build on the previous efforts made in the region to tackle ship emissions and will allow REMPEC to finalise a draft proposal to IMO for the designation of the proposed Med SOx ECA which is expected to be submitted to COP 22 in December 2021 for consideration and adoption. 

As part of the implementation of the COP 21 decision on the roadmap, REMPEC plans to continue assisting the Contracting Parties to the Barcelona Convention in the ratification and effective implementation of MARPOL Annex VI, by means of the organisation of workshops in Algeria, Lebanon and Egypt.


Since 1 January 2020, the new IMO sulphur cap has come into force, cutting the limit for sulphur content in ships' fuel oil to 0.50% from 3.50%. The proposed Med ECA, which imposes a stricter 0.1% limit on the sulphur content, would lower emissions by 78.7% for SOx and 23.7% for PM2.5, when comparing to the expected emissions of the relevant pollutants in the scenario where only the IMO sulphur cap (0.5%) is in place.

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published on 2020/03/16 11:15:00 GMT+0 last modified 2020-03-18T18:30:32+00:00