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A new report, published this month by AMEC, shows that shipping companies striving to cut their sulphur emissions before 2015 could end up adversely increasing the global carbon footprint.

The UK Chamber of Shipping, who commissioned the report, has given evidence on the effects of cutting sulphur emissions before the 2015 deadline.

It's been proved that sulphur emissions from shipping must be cut – for both environmental and health reasons. But without the relevant technology to support these cuts, meeting the sulphur reduction targets could be potentially costly.

Low-sulphur fuel costs at least $300 per tonne more than regular oil fuel, which is one option. Another is to fit sulphur scrubbers to ships, but these are not 100% proven to reduce sulphur. The other option is to use LNG as fuel instead, which is fine for newbuilds but not for most of the existing UK fleet.

So why the carbon increase? Well, reducing sulphur from ships means moving freight by road, increasing road carbon emissions and road diesel costs. It also means putting thousands of maritime engineering, navigation and customer service shipping jobs at risk – which obviously rings alarm bells with us.

The UK Chamber of Shipping has said that while the shipping industry recognises it must reduce sulphur emissions, it is not practical to race towards cutting those emissions before 2015. Protecting both the environment and maritime jobs is of paramount importance.

To read the full AMEC report, visit

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