A group of environmentalists and politicians is calling for accelerated efforts to develop a Mediterranean Emission Control Area similar to the ones that have been in place for the past few years in other parts of Europe. At a conference staged to highlight the issues of air quality in the Mediterranean, they contended that the current plans to implement the MedECA in 2024 is lacking in tempo and should be expanded from sulfur dioxide limits to include nitrogen oxide emissions.
“There should be an Emission Control Area for sulfur and nitrogen dioxide not only for the Mediterranean Sea but for all European water,” said Catherine Chabaud, a member of EU Parliament while calling for stricter regulation of emissions from ships. “European maritime industry could even benefit from stricter regulation by delivering technologies to become cleaner and more energy efficient.” She added that strict regulation could be a competitive advantage.
While acknowledging that there is a roadmap in place to designate the Mediterranean an Emission Control Area for sulfur dioxide, the groups contend that these efforts do not go far enough and the efforts to improve air quality and address climate protection need to be advanced.
The organizers of the conference presented data that they say demonstrates that implementation of the MedECA would only slightly elevate costs and that the benefits would exceed the costs for the higher quality fuels. Less crop loss and damage to buildings will also pay back economically while shipped products would not noticeably change in price they contend.
“Shipping is the main source of air pollution in many places around the Mediterranean Sea. The high loads of toxic gases harm the environment and the health of people,” said Sönke Diesener, Transport Policy Officer at NABU, a conversation group based in Germany. “It is absolutely intolerable that people around the Mediterranean Sea have to wait for fresh air while northern Europe as well as China and North America already forced the industry to switch to cleaner fuels.”
According to the presenters, the studies conducted by the French government and the EU Commission not only back up the need for a comprehensive Emission Control Area in the Mediterranean but also show further needs to decrease air pollution. Implementation of the MedECA they also believe will incentivize new technologies that help to reduce air pollutants and address climate emissions.
Other participants in the conference included Cittadini per l’Aria, France Nature Environnement, Ecologistas en Accíon, BirdLife Malta, and the Hellenic Ornithological Society.
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