Greenland Government Agrees to Back Arctic HFO Ban: Clean Arctic Alliance Response
Nuuk, Greenland, 18 September 2018:- Reacting to Greenland’s Naalakkersuisut (government) public announcement that is supports an International Maritime Organization ban on the use and carriage of heavy fuel oil by Arctic shipping, Kåre Press-Kristensen, Senior Advisor to the Danish Ecological Council, a member of the Clean Arctic Alliance said:
“We applaud Greenland’s government for speaking up for the much needed protection of the Arctic’s nature and communities, by supporting the banning of the world’s most polluting fuel – heavy fuel oil. After spending time measuring air pollution from cruise ships burning HFO in Greenland this summer, I’m very relieved that Greenlandic politicians support banning it.”
The Greenland government’s statement, published on the Naalakkersuisut’s website says (in translation) that
“Naalakkersuisut has agreed to actively work for a ban on HFO in the Arctic, via the UN International Maritime Organization (IMO). The prohibition must cover both navigation and transport of HFO in the Arctic. Naalakkersuisut’s position on the case has awaited an analysis of the socio-economic, environmental and climate consequences for Greenland of a possible ban on sailing on HFO in the Arctic.”
“The Ministry of Nature and Environment states that the analysis is now available and, on this basis, Naalakkersuisut has decided to support a ban on sailing and transport of HFO in the Arctic. The analysis shows that a ban on sailing on HFO will be associated with a socioeconomic cost of approximately 8.1 million kroner [€1.085 million/ USD$1.268 million] annually.”
“A very important reason for avoiding HFO in Arctic waters is that marine casualties, which lead to waste of HFO in the marine environment, can have major environmental and economic consequences. HFO is very difficult and partly impossible to collect at low sea temperatures. Therefore, in case of major spill of HFO, there is a high risk that the oil will remain in the water for a long time or on the coasts that the oil may endanger.”
In April 2018, the International Maritime Organization’s Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC72) agreed to move forward on developing of a Arctic ban on heavy fuel oil – which is already banned in Antarctic waters.
After Denmark was one of the countries to back the ban, making it the sixth Arctic nation to do so, Kåre Press-Kristensen had expressed his hope for further collaboration with Greenland in order to gather support for the ban.
MEPC72 directed one of its sub-committees (PPR6) – which will meet in early 2019 – to develop a ban on heavy fuel oil use and carriage for use by ships in the Arctic, “on the basis of an assessment of the impacts” and “on an appropriate timescale”.
Arctic summer sea ice is approximately half the extent it was in the 1970s and half the volume, while the region’s strongest sea ice has broken up twice this year, for the first time on record. The use of heavy fuel oil in the Arctic not only increases the risk of devastating oil spills, but it also generates higher emissions of black carbon, which exacerbate the melting of both sea and glacier ice (see below under “About Heavy Fuel Oil”).
Commenting on the Greenland government backing of the HFO ban, Clean Arctic Alliance Lead Advisor Sian Prior said:
“With MEPC73 coming up next month in London, Greenland’s backing of a ban on the world’s dirtiest shipping fuel in the Arctic is a timely encouragement for IMO member state governments to strengthen their commitment to quickly end the use and carriage of heavy fuel oil in Arctic waters. The best thing IMO member states can now do for their domestic shipping industries is to send a clear signal for investment in alternatives to HFO. We’re also calling on shipping companies crossing the Arctic – such as Maersk and COSCO – to show industry leadership and move towards cleaner fuels, and to commit to decarbonised forms of propulsion in the future.”
- Press release: Naalakkersuisut støtter et forbud mod HFO i Arktis (Naalakkersuisut supports a ban on HFO in the Arctic)
- Analysis: Socioøkonomiske, miljø- og klimamæssige konsekvenser af et muligt forbud mod brugen af HFO (Socio-economic, environmental and climate impact of possible ban on the use of HFO)
- Chefredaktøren anbefaler: Forbyd tung bunkerolie i Arktis (The editor recommends: Prevent heavy bunker oil in the Arctic)
- Sara Olsvig: Naalakkersuisut skal tage stilling til HFO (Sara Olsvig: Naalakkersuisut has to take a position on HFO)
Dave Walsh, Communications Advisor, HFO-Free Arctic Campaign, [email protected], +34 691 826 764
Sian Prior, Lead Advisor, HFO-Free Arctic Campaign, [email protected], +44 7785 747945
About Heavy Fuel Oil
Heavy fuel oil is a dirty and polluting fossil fuel that powers ships throughout our seas and oceans – accounting for 80% of marine fuel used worldwide. Climate change is fuelling high winter temperatures and driving sea ice melt, opening up Arctic waters to shipping. As the sea ice recedes, larger, non-Arctic state-flagged vessels running on HFO are likely to divert to Arctic waters in search of shorter journey times. This, combined with an increase in Arctic state-flagged vessels targeting previously non-accessible resources, will greatly increase the risks of HFO spills.
Around 75% of marine fuel currently carried in the Arctic is HFO; over half by vessels flagged to non-Arctic states – countries that have little if any connection to the Arctic (See also: Five briefing papers on the use of heavy fuel oil in the Arctic).
Already banned in Antarctic waters, if HFO is spilled in cold polar waters, it breaks down slowly, proving almost impossible to clean up. A HFO spill would have long-term devastating effects on Arctic indigenous communities, livelihoods and the marine ecosystems they depend upon. HFO is also a greater source of harmful emissions of air pollutants, such as sulphur oxide, and particulate matter, including black carbon, than alternative fuels such as distillate fuel and liquefied natural gas (LNG). When emitted and deposited on Arctic snow or ice, the climate warming effect of black carbon is up to five times more than when emitted at lower latitudes, such as in the tropics.
In April 2018, the IMO agreed to move forward on developing a ban on heavy fuel oil from Arctic waters.
Plans to develop a ban on heavy fuel oil (HFO) from Arctic shipping, along with an assessment of the impact of such a ban, were agreed upon during the International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC72). The meeting directed a sub-committee (PPR6) to develop a ban on heavy fuel oil use and carriage for use by ships in the Arctic, “on the basis of an assessment of the impacts” and “on an appropriate timescale”
This followed agreement in July 2017 for MEPC to consider “development of measures to reduce risks of use and carriage of heavy fuel oil as fuel by ships in Arctic waters”. The Clean Arctic Alliance also welcomed this move, stating that a ban on the use and carriage as fuel by ships operating in the Arctic is the simplest and most effective way to mitigate the effects of HFO.
Further reading on HFO and Black Carbon
- Clean Arctic Alliance Opinion article on shipping industry on Splash 24/7: Who is Ready for an Arctic Ban on HFO?
- Opinion: The World’s Dirtiest Fuel will be Banned from Arctic Shipping. Here’s How.
- Press release: Clean Arctic Alliance Hails IMO Move to Ban Heavy Fuel Oil From Arctic Shipping
- Infographic: Responding to Arctic Shipping Oil Spills: Risks and Challenges
- Infographic: How Can We Reduce Black Carbon Emissions From International Shipping?
- Report: Black Carbon Emissions and fuel use in global Shipping
- Report: The impacts of an Arctic shipping HFO ban on emissions of Black Carbon
See also: Five briefing papers on the use of heavy fuel oil in the Arctic, prepared by Bryan Comer PhD, The International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT), for the Clean Arctic Alliance. These papers look at HFO use by flag state, by ship type, by shipowner, and looks in more depth at HFO use by cruise ships and by fishing vessels in the IMO Polar Code Arctic, 2015.
Danish Eco Council Report Cleaner Shipping: Focus on air pollution, technical solutions and regulation
The Arctic Commitment
Launched at the Arctic Frontiers conference in January 2017 by the Clean Arctic Alliance – a coalition of non-governmental organisations – and expedition cruise ship operator Hurtigruten, the Arctic Commitment aims to protect Arctic communities and ecosystems from the risks posed by the use of heavy fuel oil, and calls on the International Maritime Organization (IMO) to ban its use and carriage as marine fuel by Arctic shipping. An HFO ban has already been in place in Antarctic waters, since 2011. In July 2017, the Clean Arctic Alliance welcomed action being taken by IMO member states to start work to identify measures to mitigate the risks of HFO spills, during the IMO’s Marine Environment Protection Committee meeting (MEPC71).
About the Clean Arctic Alliance
The following not-for-profit organisations form the Clean Arctic Alliance, which is committed to a ban on HFO as marine fuel in the Arctic:
Alaska Wilderness League, Bellona, Clean Air Task Force, Danish Ecological Council, Ecology and Development Foundation ECODES, Environmental Investigation Agency, European Climate Foundation, Friends of the Earth US, Greenpeace, Icelandic Nature Conservation Association, Nature And Biodiversity Conservation Union, Ocean Conservancy, Pacific Environment, Seas At Risk, Surfrider Foundation Europe, Stand.Earth, Transport & Environment and WWF.
More more information visit https://www.hfofreearctic.org/
Dave Walsh, Communications Advisor, HFO-Free Arctic Campaign, [email protected], +34 691 826 764