The new Emission Control Area in the Mediterranean Sea
Ships are a major source of pollution with negative impacts on health, the marine environment, its biodiversity, and on the climate. Without further emission control measures ship’s air pollutants are projected to grow in 2030-50 even accounting for emission reduction co-benefits from climate policies. Under the European Green Deal, the Commission pushes for the creation of ‘Emission Control Areas’ (ECAs) in all EU seas, including the Mediterranean. This is to promote green shipping by controlling all air pollutants (SOx, NOx and PM) during navigation and in ports. ECAs proved to be cost-effective in the EU waters and in other parts of the world. 21 Mediterranean States and the EU have completed preparatory work on designation of the Mediterranean Sea, as an Emission Control Area for Sulphur Oxides. The cost-benefit case for the so called Med SOx ECA is clear. At its 22nd session (December 2021), COP of the Barcelona Convention may decide on the designation and its key dates (i.e. confirm the submission of a joint proposal to the IMO in 2022 and set entering into force date as soon as possible). It is crucial decision which will also require technical and financial support to ensure all Mediterranean countries are on board. It is a starting point, as work on NOx may start as of next year.