IMO has set a global limit for sulphur in fuel oil used on board ships of 0.50% m/m (mass by mass) from 1 January 2020. This will significantly reduce the amount of sulphur oxide emanating from ships and should have major health and environmental benefits for the world, particularly for populations living close to ports and coasts.
IMO has been working to reduce harmful impacts of shipping on the environment since the 1960s. Annex VI to the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL Convention) was adopted in 1997, to address air pollution from shipping.
The regulations for the Prevention of Air Pollution from Ships (Annex VI) seek to control airborne emissions from ships (sulphur oxides (SOx), nitrogen oxides (NOx), ozone depleting substances (ODS), volatile organic compounds (VOC) and shipboard incineration and their contribution to local and global air pollution, human health issues and environmental problems.
Annex VI entered into force on 19 May 2005 and a revised Annex VI with significantly strengthened requir ements was adopted in October 2008 which entered into force on 1 July 2010.
The regulations to reduce sulphur oxide emissions introduced a global limit for sulphur content of ships fuel oil, with tighter restrictions in designated emission control areas.