June 19, 2013 11:49 pm
Environment: Russia delays tougher marine emissions standards
By Don Hoyt Gorman
Stringent new emissions standards for yachts have been delayed after a
surprise intervention by the Russian delegation at a meeting of the
International Maritime Organisation (IMO) – the highest authority on
marine pollution by shipping.
At last month’s meeting the introduction of the toughest restrictions
yet was postponed for five years to 2021. The decision followed
Russian pressure that took the US delegation, who backed the original
plan for introduction in January 2016, by surprise.
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The new standards known as IMO Tier III mean that all ships, including
superyachts, will have to reduce their emissions drastically,
requiring the installation of selective catalytic reduction (SCR)
systems. Yacht builders were concerned that the systems – which are
relatively large and complex – would not fit into the engine rooms of
yachts below the 500 gross ton threshold. Shipyards and designers were
studying redesigns, in some cases eliminating a guest cabin to house
the required exhaust after-treatment system.
In a segment heavily reliant on charter, worries about the potential
loss of 20 per cent of a vessel’s guest capacity, plus the increased
costs of installation and maintenance of new systems prompted industry
The primary lobbying body, the International Council of Marine
Industry Associations (Icomia), conducted an investigation and
presented its argument to the IMO in May. Citing significant economic
impact on a sector of the yachting industry, Icomia asked for a
three-year delay to allow innovations in SCR technology to reduce the
size of the systems.
According to data from the industry resource
SuperyachtIntelligence.com, the yards most likely to be affected by
the Tier III limits are Azimut, Pershing (Ferretti), Sanlorenzo,
Overmarine, Leopard and Sunseeker. It was not only the boatyards that
faced pressure from the IMO regulations – most smaller high-speed
yachts are powered by the M94 or M93 power plant from the German
engine manufacturer MTU.
But at the meeting of the IMO’s marine environmental protection
committee in London in May, Icomia’s argument – which had been
supported by delegations from the Marshall Islands and the Cook
Islands – was overshadowed by the Russian proposal. Russia’s move
successfully got the IMO to declare the five-year delay in the onset
of the emissions limits for all types of vessel, worldwide.
As a result, yacht builders and engine manufacturers are now likely to
spend this time researching and designing both yachts and engines that
are Tier III compliant.
The US delegation to the IMO is strongly in favour of the Tier III
emission limits, and, by their own admission, did not foresee the
Jeffrey G. Lantz, director of commercial regulations and standards
with the US Coast Guard and head of the US delegation to the IMO,
says: “The US argued to retain the worldwide 2016 timeline. It was
only after the decision … to agree with Russia’s worldwide 2021
proposal that the US proposed keeping the 2016 date for the North
America and Caribbean Sea Emission Control Areas (ECAs), but retaining
the Russia 2021 timeline for yachts under 500 gross tons, as proposed
by the Marshall Islands and Cook Islands.
“The primary reason for the US opposition to a delay … for the North
America ECAs is to improve the air quality from the impact of today’s
marine vessels for the health and welfare of US and Canadian
citizens,” Mr Lantz adds.
“US engine manufacturers have made significant investments and are
prepared to meet the Tier III standards in 2016. Unfortunately, this
proposed delay removes certainty and regulatory predictability, which
is important for their business planning.”
The Russian proposal is expected to be adopted at the next IMO’s
environmental protection committee meeting in spring 2014, and is not
expected to be challenged or overturned.
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