Cruise boat
6 December 2019

France welcomes the commitment of all Mediterranean countries to ensure low pollution from ships in the Mediterranean

At the Conference of the Parties to the Barcelona Convention, which was held in Naples from 2 to 5 December, the European Union and the 21 Mediterranean coastal States made a joint commitment to making the Mediterranean an area with low sulphur oxide emissions by ships, known as an ECA (emission control area) zone.

Elisabeth Borne, Minister for the Ecological and Inclusive Transition, and Jean-Baptiste Djebbari, Minister of State for Transport, attached to the Minister for the Ecological and Inclusive Transition, commend this agreement, which is the culmination of decisive action on the part of the French Government to preserve the environment of the Mediterranean region and the health of its inhabitants, through measures to tackle pollution from ships.

Indeed, following a cost-benefit study published in January 2019, France has since the beginning of the year been actively conducting negotiations in favour of the proposed Mediterranean ECA zone, following the example of the one already in place in the Channel and North Sea.

For the first time, all Mediterranean States have affirmed their shared ambition to call upon the International Maritime Organisation, by 2022, to limit the permitted sulphur content in fuel used by ships in the Mediterranean to 0.1%. The implementation of this decision is the focus of a roadmap, which has also been agreed by all Parties. It includes provision for carrying out additional studies and identifying support measures to help meet the intended objective.
« The involvement of all countries around the Mediterranean shows a collective awareness of what is at stake. France will fully support the preparatory work towards establishing this new international regime ».
Elisabeth Borne

In addition to this proposed area, the Government is pursuing a strategy to make ports fume-free, based primarily on developing electric dock connections and alternative energy supply services at ports.

The entry into force on 1st January 2020 of the global reduction in the sulphur content of marine fuels, which will be lowered by a factor of seven, is another key measure aimed at reducing air pollution from ships. Controls in French ports will ensure that regulations are followed. The ecological transition of maritime transport also requires support for innovation to make ship propulsion green, tax incentives such as additional depreciation or support for voluntary commitments from the economic sectors concerned to promote virtuous practices.