NZ to Join IMO Convention to Reduce Ship Emissions

New Zealand will sign up to new international maritime regulations to reduce ship emissions and lift air quality around ports and harbours, Associate Transport Minister Julie Anne Genter announced today.

Subject to completion of the Parliamentary treaty examination process, New Zealand will sign up to Annex VI of MARPOL, an International Maritime convention for the prevention of pollution from ships.

“Joining this convention will improve the health and environmental impact of shipping emissions, particularly around our port communities.

“It will give Maritime NZ the power to inspect foreign ships for compliance with new emission standards and take enforcement action if necessary.

“Signing up will also ensure New Zealand has a seat at the table as new global greenhouse gas emission maritime regulations are negotiated over the next few years.

“The convention’s regulations limiting sulphur emissions from shipping are due to come into force on 1 January 2020. However, as the previous government did not initiate the process of signing up to this convention, there will be a longer lead in time before these regulations apply to domestic ships.

“The treaty examination process means that New Zealand would sign up to Annex VI in late 2021. Stricter limits on sulphur limits would then apply to domestic ships from early 2022. This gives our shipping and fishing industries sufficient time to prepare for the new regulations,” said Julie Anne Genter.

Background

The IMO convention, MARPOL Annex VI, regulates atmospheric emissions from ships. It will also be the platform for new IMO measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from ships, which are expected to be ready in 2023.

The most significant regulatory impact of Annex VI will be new sulphur limits on marine fuel. The current sulphur limit of 3.5% by mass for marine fuels will drop to 0.5% when new Annex VI regulations take effect globally on 1 January 2020. Compliance can be achieved by using low sulphur fuel or fitting an exhaust cleaning system known as a ‘scrubber’ to reduce emissions to a level equivalent to those from low sulphur fuel.

All ships ‘flagged’ to Annex VI party states visiting New Zealand will have to comply with the new regulations from that date.  Similarly, New Zealand-flagged ships travelling to states that are party to Annex VI will also have to comply.

Almost 100 countries representing 97 percent of global freight capacity are already signatories to the convention. Subject to the parliamentary treaty examination process, and legislation changes necessary to implement the convention, New Zealand is expected to accede to Annex VI in late 2021. Ships operating only in domestic waters will have until early 2022 to comply, as Annex VI would come into force for New Zealand three months after accession.

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