The City Council of Barcelona and the Catalan Goverment in favour of the creation of an Emission Control Area in the Mediterranean Sea

Alianza Mar Blava, Transport & Environment, Ecologistas en Acción of Catalonia and Plataforma por la Calidad del Aire have congratulated the Barcelona City Council and the Catalan Goverment for subscribing to the initiative in favour of the creation of an Emission Control Area (ECA) in the Mediterranean Sea (Med-ECA) to limit air pollution produced by ships. The establishment of a regulatory framework for ECAs in the North Sea, the Baltic Sea and the English Channel has led to immediate improvements in air quality of up to 50% since 2015 and associated socio-economic benefits valued in billions of euros.
For coastal areas and port cities, maritime traffic is a particularly important source of air pollution, which constitutes a serious threat to public health and the environment. The ships use fuels with a high sulfur content that emit pollutants that are severely dangerous to human health due to less strict regulations than those that govern land emission sources. Among these pollutants are nitrogen oxides (NOx), sulfur oxides (SOx) and particulate matter (PM).
In fact, the European Commission estimates that every year 50,000 Europeans die prematurely from air pollution caused by ships, especially from nitrogen oxides, sulfur oxides, tropospheric ozone and particulate matter.For this reason, these organizations have launched a campaign to achieve the greatest number of possible supports for this initiative, in which the

Spanish Government is urged to:

  • Actively support the creation, as soon as possible, of an Emission Control Area in the Mediterranean Sea (Med-ECA) to limit air pollution produced by ships (covering all major air pollutants, such as sulfur and nitrogen oxides, but also particles and black carbon), thus supporting efforts in this direction initiated by France and other coastal states of the Mediterranean.
  • Consistent with the previous point, to coordinate with the European Commission, with France and the rest of member states of the European Union (EU), as well as with non-EU coastal states, to ensure the creation of said Mediterranean ECA and, subsequently, once created, to support the implementation of a cooperative cross-border management of the same.
  • To urgently implement the relevant measures in the Ports of the State to ensure the reduction of emissions from ships, forcing them, once they are docked, to connect to the electricity grid for daily operation, among other measures.

The continued success of the Emission Control Areas that already exist in Northern Europe, in the seas of North America and other areas, demonstrates that the creation of an ECA in the Mediterranean Sea would also generate significant benefits in terms of improved air quality, not only in the maritime routes and coastal areas but also in the port and cities situated on the peninsula. Other consequences will be immediate improvements in public health, limited damage to ecosystems and cultural heritage, and allowing member states to reduce air pollution at the local level and the consequent impact on global warming.

See the campaign petition here.

More information:
– Barcelona City council press release: Piden al Gobierno que apoye la creación de un área de control de emisiones en el mar Mediterráneo
– Goverment of Catalonia press release: La Generalitat dona suport a la creació d’una àrea de baixes emissions a la Mediterrània

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