From 1 January 2020, the global upper limit on the sulphur content of ships’ fuel oil will be reduced to 0.50% (from 3.50%). To support smooth implementation, the IMO Secretariat has set up a dedicated hotline email address for any queries from Member States and the shipping industry as the regulation comes into effect.

Member State and industry queries, updates and experience with implementation can be sent to the IMO Secretariat, at the dedicated email address: [email protected]

Known as IMO 2020, the reduced limit is mandatory for all ships operating outside certain designated Emission Control Areas (Baltic Sea; North Sea; North American area; United States Caribbean Sea area), where the limit is already 0.10%.

This global regulation will substantially reduce harmful sulphur oxide (SOx) emissions from ships, bringing significant benefits for both human health and the environment.

The new limit will mean a 77% drop in overall SOx emissions from ships, equivalent to an annual reduction of approximately 8.5 million metric tonnes of SOx.

Particulate matter – tiny harmful particles which form when fuel is burnt – will also be reduced.

As a result, reductions in stroke, asthma, lung cancer, cardiovascular and pulmonary diseases are expected.

Cutting sulphur emissions from ships will also help prevent acid rain and ocean acidification, benefitting crops, forests and aquatic species.

The new limit is part of the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution form ships (MARPOL), a key environmental treaty under the auspices of the IMO.

IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim said, “For the past three years, IMO Member States, the shipping industry and fuel oil suppliers have been working tirelessly to prepare for this major change in the sulphur content of ships’ fuel oil.

“I am confident that the benefits will soon be felt and that implementation will be smooth.

“I am very appreciative of all the efforts made by refineries, shipowners, seafarers, industry organizations and others in preparing for this hugely important change – which will have significant positive benefits for human health and the environment.”

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