Explained: The debate over UN’s new rules for ships in the Arctic region

News: International Maritime Organization (IMO) put forward new regulations, called IMO 2020


IMO 2020

  • Bans ships from using fuels with a sulphur content above 0.5 per cent, compared with 3.5 per cent previously.
  • Only ships fitted with sulphur-cleaning devices, known as scrubbers, are allowed to continue burning high-sulphur fuel.
  • Ships can opt for cleaner fuels, such as marine gas oil (MGO) and very low-sulphur fuel oil (VLSFO).

The rationale behind the ban: Sulphur oxides (SOx), which are formed after combustion in engines, are known to cause respiratory symptoms and lung disease, and also leads to acid rain.

Concern over VLSFO: Contribute to highly polluting black carbon emissions.

Additional Information:

International Maritime Organization

  • A specialized agency of the United Nations responsible for measures to improve the safety and security of international shipping and to prevent pollution from ships.
  • Founded in 1948 and headquartered in London, United Kingdom

International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL)

  •  Main international convention aimed at the prevention of pollution from ships caused by operational or accidental causes.
  •  Adopted by IMO in 1973.