Effective Economic Disincentive and 2020 .5% Sulphur Cap Enforcement

December 14, 2016 | By: J. Stephen Simms

Firm Principal Steve Simms recently explained the enforcement challenges that lie ahead from the October 27, 2016 decision by the International Maritime Organization’s (“IMO”) Marine Environmental Protection Committee (MEPC) that by January 1, 2020, world-wide ships’ bunker sulphur limits (expressed in terms of % m/m – that is by mass) would be limited to 0.50% m/m. The question on the minds of industry experts since the decision was announced is whether the new global cap can be enforced effectively.

The toll on human life from ship-caused sulphur dioxide and related pollution has gained increased international attention, which was part of the stimulus behind the IMO’s .5% worldwide marine fuel sulphur content decision. The cost of non-compliance by individual countries in enforcing the sulphur cap has serious consequences, so the international maritime community understands that enforcement measures are a necessary part of this discussion. One of the potential mechanisms for enforcement that may come to fruition is sanctions to be imposed upon nations who demonstrate that they are consistent violators of the global sulphur cap.

In the meantime, the responsibility may understandably fall on the traders, suppliers, charterers, and owners of the vessel to ensure that the vessel is receiving compliant fuel. No party in the fuel transaction should be able to escape responsibility for ensuring that compliant fuel is being used. The IMO’s MEPC, Pollution Prevention Response (“PPR”) Sub-Committee will meet in January, 2017 to work towards developing effective enforcement mechanisms of the 2020 .5% limitation, for a world-wide level playing field.

If you are interested in reading more about the upcoming enforcement challenges of the IMO’s .5% worldwide marine fuel sulphur content decision, a full version of the article is available here. For information and advice on how the enforcement of sulphur regulations by the IMO may affect your business, contact Steve Simms.