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Another Step Toward an International Emission Control Area for Vessels

On July 25, 2019, an international workshop on vessel emission control areas was held in Beijing with support from Energy Foundation China. In order to advance the enforcement of China’s current domestic emission control area (ECA) and its transition to an international version that is approved by the International Maritime Organization (IMO), workshop organizer the Transport Planning Research Institute (TPRI) invited experts from IMO, existing ECA countries, and new ECA applicants to share their progress with Chinese representatives from central and local government agencies of transport and the environment. Li Tianbi, Chief Safety Officer of China’s Ministry of Transport; Wu Xianfeng, Deputy Director of Air Pollution Control of the Ministry of Ecology and Environment; and Chen Shengying, Director of TPRI, made the opening remarks.

At the workshop, participants presented what could be learned from the four existing and two potential international ECAs, and then discussed the application process, enforcement challenges, and benefits for China to apply an IMO-approved ECA. The speakers agreed that vessel emissions are becoming more prominent as control on land-based pollution sources—including on-road vehicles—is tightened. An IMO-designated ECA would be a cost-effective option to reduce SOx and NOx emissions from vessels. Such an ECA requires vessels to use marine oil fuel that has less than 0.1 percent of sulfur content, which is in plentiful supply in a stable global market.

The international experts gave their recognition to China’s domestic ECA progress and its study of the international version. They welcomed China to further move toward an IMO-approved ECA, which they believed would make significant contribution to the global efforts of marine fuel desulfurization and vessel air pollution control.

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