Belgium bans export of highly polluting fuels outside Europe

The export of highly polluting fossil fuels from Belgium to countries outside Europe will be banned, according to a new royal decree published in the Official Gazette. 

In April 2023, the Netherlands banned oil producers and traders from continuing to export highly polluting fuels to West Africa. Given the country's geographical proximity with Belgium, there was a risk that activities would move to the port of Antwerp. Therefore, Belgium too will impose stricter standards for petrol and diesel exports. Highly polluting and damaging fossil fuels will no longer be allowed to be exported abroad. 

The fuels in question contain high levels of sulphur or benzene, both of which have proven detrimental health and environmental impacts. According to the Federal Public Health Service, high concentrations of pollutants in petrol and diesel lead to much higher emissions of particulate matter, sulphur dioxide, benzene and volatile organic compounds. The fuels are blamed for poor air quality, damaging the health of people and causing respiratory diseases and cancer.

Fuel producers, traders and terminals operating in Belgium and mainly exporting from the port of Antwerp will be subject to new, strict rules, compliance with which will be monitored by the environmental inspectorate of the Federal Public Health Service.


Containers in Waasland harbour, an extention of Antwerp port © BELGA PHOTO DIRK WAEM

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