The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Marcie Keever, 415-999-3992,
Danielle Fugere, 415-577-5594,

International Maritime Organization Hits and Misses on Ship Pollution

At key meeting in London this week, Emission Control Area for Canada and U.S. moves forward, but little progress is made on greenhouse gas emissions from ships


The International Maritime
Organization (IMO) today approved a proposal to designate an Emission Control
Area for coastal waters of the United States
and Canada.
Vessels entering this protected zone would have to use cleaner fuel and install
advanced technology to reduce smog-forming emissions. Friends
of the Earth was instrumental in extending the boundaries of the zone to
include Hawaii and parts of Alaska.

Government analyses indicate the new protections will
substantially benefit public health. The U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency
has stated that, by 2020, the protections
will prevent up to 14,000 premature mortalities, 4,800 hospital admissions,
9,300 cases of acute bronchitis, and 4,900,000 instances of acute respiratory
symptoms. The cost-benefit ratio for the proposal is 9 to 1 even at the 200
nautical mile border to which the protected zone extends. The proposal is now
set for adoption by the IMO in March 2010.

"The IMO has moved one major step closer to securing
protections against shipping pollution that Americans and Canadians so desperately
need," said Friends of the Earth Clean Vessels Program Manager John
Kaltenstein, who attended the IMO's meeting this week in London. "After many years of demanding
more stringent ship pollution measures, at long last they are in sight."

Nevertheless, progress was limited on reducing greenhouse
gas from international shipping. This week's IMO meeting resulted in little
more than another roadmap on the issue, extending the organization's
already 12-year-long attempt to regulate greenhouse gases from ships. The
current roadmap envisions no final decision before late 2011 at the earliest.

"The IMO's failure to take substantive action
this week shows that that it may be incapable of tackling this problem," Kaltenstein
said. "Patience with the IMO
is fast disappearing since it has still not called for
the application of existing
design and operational measures that could reduce the sector's carbon
footprint by 20 percent at no cost to industry, and since no serious discussion
was given to market-based mechanisms, such as a bunker levy, which can provide
significant environmental benefits."

More information about the proposed Emission Control Area
can be found at

Friends of the Earth fights for a more healthy and just world. Together we speak truth to power and expose those who endanger the health of people and the planet for corporate profit. We organize to build long-term political power and campaign to change the rules of our economic and political systems that create injustice and destroy nature.

(202) 783-7400