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In an attempt to decrease air pollution, sulphur will be cut drastically from global shipping transport fuels in 2020.

As of the 1st January 2020, ships are only allowed to use fuel oil with a very low sulphur content, in correspondence with the International Maritime Organisation’s rules. This change is expected to have a positive impact on both human health and the environment, as sulphur emissions cause air pollution, including acid rain. The IMO predicts that the new sulphur limit of 0.5% (previously 3.5%) will decrease sulphur oxide emissions from ships by 77%.

However, the move to lower-sulphur fuels may have a large cost impact, not just for the shipping industry (as alternative fuels are available at a higher price) but could also have a knock-on effect and increase the cost of plane tickets. Ships can also be fitted with scrubbers to remove sulphur, but some of this will inevitably end up being released into the sea. Ports are also growing more and more concerned regarding the pollutants from cargo and passenger ships, and some ports operate zones where sulphur content is even more drastically reduced.