IPCC SROCC: NGOs Call for heavy fuel oil ban to cut Arctic shipping emissions

Let's get Heavy Fuel Oil out of the Arctic

IPCC SROCC: NGOs Call for heavy fuel oil ban to cut Arctic shipping emissions

Report on Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate Coincides with 2nd-lowest Arctic summer sea ice minimum

Monaco, September 25th, 2019:- Responding to Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate (SROCC), the Clean Arctic Alliance and the Inuit Circumpolar Council Canada call for urgent action to ban heavy fuel oil (HFO) use and carriage by Arctic shipping to reduce risks of a devastating spill, and to reduce black carbon emissions in the Arctic [1].

SROCC’s Summary for Policymakers states that “Arctic ship-based transportation and tourism have implications for global trade, northern nations, and economies linked to traditional shipping corridors; they will also exacerbate local risks to marine ecosystems and coastal communities if further action to develop and implement regulations does not keep pace” [2].

The Summary for Policymakers recognises that shipping activity in the Arctic has increased over the past two decades, and highlights the need for urgent action to ensure that environmental regulation keeps pace with the increasing interest in Arctic shipping routes.

“The IPCC Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate makes clear that an International Maritime Organization ban on the world’s dirtiest fuel – heavy fuel oil – is imperative if we are to diminish the risks to the Arctic environment from increased shipping”, said Dr Sian Prior, Lead Advisor to the Clean Arctic Alliance, a coalition of 18 international non-governmental organisations working for a ban on heavy fuel oil from the Arctic.

“Emissions of black carbon in the Arctic, from the burning of fuels such as heavy fuel oil, further exacerbates the accelerated melting of sea ice in the Arctic caused by climate change.”

“As the IPCC SROCC points out, immediate measures are needed to curb black carbon emissions and prevent risks of spills of heavy fuel oil in the Arctic waters. With increased shipping passing through the Arctic waters of Inuit Nunaat comes the need to protect the marine ecosystem, which is part and parcel of our lifestyle and culture. We send an immediate message to global leaders to take action to make sure that our environment is not at risk of devastation and ban the use of heavy fuel oil, ensuring our communities are not negatively impacted.” said Lisa Koperqualuk, Vice-President of Inuit Circumpolar Council Canada [3].

The publication of SROCC coincides with the Arctic sea ice reaching the second lowest minimum in the satellite record. This year has tied as the second lowest in the satellite record, along with 2007 and 2016, while 2012 remains the record minimum [4].

“This morning’s IPCC press conference highlighted that if we remain on a two degree warming trajectory, we will see an ice-free Arctic in the month of September – when the sea ice minimum occurs – one in every three years”, said Prior. “However, according to the IPCC, if we can reduce our emissions and keep global warming to 1.5 degrees or under, the Arctic is only likely to be ice-free in September once in every 100 years. Clearly, the shipping industry must act now to play its part in keeping below 1.5 degrees: ending the use of heavy fuel oil in the Arctic to reduce black carbon emissions is one clear step towards achieving this.  As the IPCC outlined this morning, there is an urgent need to act and to act at scale’, and to take ‘action across all elements of society’ – and that includes the maritime sector.”

Annual monitoring of the Arctic summer sea ice minimum shows that the 13 lowest extents have occurred in the last 13 years. This ongoing reduction of the summer sea ice extent continues to attract international shipping to the Arctic, resulting in  new “firsts” being achieved year on year. In 2016, luxury cruise ship the Crystal Serenity was the first large passenger ship to transit the Arctic’s Northwest Passage [5]. In August 2017, the first transit of the Northern Sea Route, along the coast of Northern Russia, by the Russian-flagged Christoph de Margerie tanker transporting liquified natural gas was reported, followed a year later in September 2018, with the first-ever NSR transit of a dedicated container ship [6,7]. Earlier this year saw the first transit of the NSR by a LNG-fuelled tanker carrying a cargo of crude oil without the need for an icebreaker escort on the Northern Sea Route [8]. Meanwhile Chinese shipping company COSCO has announced its intention to increase its use of the NSR [9]. The Clean Arctic Alliance has again written to COSCO asking it to make public its choice of fuel when using the NSR – the company has yet to reply [10].

“We welcome the recognition in the Summary for Policymakers that environmental regulation needs to keep pace with the increased interest in Arctic shipping routes because of the risks to Arctic ecosystems and communities. Coastal communities in the Arctic are heavily dependent on the seas for subsistence, livelihoods and culture, and the increased retreat of the summer sea ice is impacting the ability of communities to maintain their traditional ways of life. An International Maritime Organization ban on the use and carriage of HFO fuel in the Arctic is a simple and effective tool to  reduce international shipping’s contribution to the climate crisis by reducing black carbon emissions, and it will also eliminate the threat of a potentially devastating HFO spill. A ban of HFO will not be sufficient on its own to reverse the climate crisis, but it is a significant step in the right direction and can be implemented quickly and easily by simply switching to lighter, cleaner fuels,” concluded Prior.

ENDS

 

Contact

Dave Walsh, Communications Advisor, HFO-Free Arctic Campaign, dave.walsh@hfofreearctic.org, +34 691 826 764

Natasha Latreille, Inuit Circumpolar Council Canada, NLatreille@inuitcircumpolar.com, +1 613-563-2642

Notes:

[1]  The IPCC will consider the Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate (SROCC) on 20 – 23 September 2019, during its 51st Session to be held in the Principality of Monaco. The SROCC will be launched on 25th September. https://www.ipcc.ch/report/srocc/

[2] Summary for Policymakers (~10 pages) 

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate (SROCC)

Extracts from Summary for Policymakers

A8.3 Shipping activity during the Arctic summer increased over the past two decades concurrent with reductions in Arctic sea ice and the shift to predominantly seasonal ice cover (high confidence). Increased Arctic ship-based transportation and tourism have implications for global trade, northern nations, and economies linked to traditional shipping corridors; they will also exacerbate local risks to marine ecosystems and coastal communities if further action to develop and implement regulations does not keep pace (high confidence). {3.2.1, 3.2.4, 3.5.4, 5.4.2}

A7.3 Arctic peoples have adjusted the timing of activities to respond to changes in seasonality and less safe ice travel conditions (high confidence); municipalities and industry are beginning to address infrastructure failures associated with flooding and thawing permafrost (medium confidence); and some coastal communities and cooperating agencies are planning for relocation (medium confidence). {3.5.2, 3.5.4, Cross-Chapter Box 9}

B7 Projected changes in the terrestrial cryosphere will affect water resources and their uses, such as hydropower, irrigated agriculture, and water quality in high mountain areas and downstream regions and food security and livelihoods in the Arctic (medium confidence). Changes in natural hazards, such as floods, avalanches, landslides, and ground destabilization, will contribute to negatively impact infrastructure, cultural, tourism and recreation assets (medium confidence). Risks are initially projected to increase independent of emission pathways (medium confidence) and become greater under higher emission pathways after 2050 (high confidence). {2.3, 3.4.3}

[3] Inuit Circumpolar Council Canada: https://www.inuitcircumpolar.com/icc-canada/

The ICC in Canada is a non-profit organization led by a board of directors comprising the elected leaders of the four land-claims settlement regions: Inuvialuit, Nunatsiavut, Nunavik, and Nunavut. ICC is a  major international non-government organization representing approximately 160,000 Inuit of Alaska, Canada, Greenland, and Chukotka (Russia). The organization holds Consultative Status II at the United Nations.

More information about ICC https://www.inuitcircumpolar.com/about-icc/

[4] National Snow and Ice Data Center, Arctic Sea Ice News and Analysis: Arctic sea ice reaches second lowest minimum in satellite record

https://nsidc.org/arcticseaicenews/2019/09/arctic-sea-ice-reaches-second-lowest-minimum-in-satellite-record/

[5] National Geographic: A Luxury Cruise Liner Is About to Sail the Arctic’s Northwest Passage, August 16, 2016

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/news/2016/08/crystal-serenity-luxury-cruise-arctic-northwest-passage/

[6] New Northern Sea Route Transit Record for Christophe de Margerie

https://worldmaritimenews.com/archives/258161/new-northern-sea-route-transit-record-for-christophe-de-margerie/

[7] GCaptain: Maersk Containership Completes Historic Passage of Northern Sea Route, September 2018

https://gcaptain.com/maersk-containership-completes-historic-passage-of-northern-sea-route/

 

[8] Sea News: First Crude Oil Tanker to cross Northern Sea Route using only LNG, August 2019

https://seanews.co.uk/news/first-crude-oil-tanker-to-cross-northern-sea-route-using-only-lng/

[9] Safety4Sea: COSCO plans several Arctic shipments for 2019, May 2019

https://safety4sea.com/cosco-plans-several-arctic-shipments-for-2019/

[10] Clean Arctic Alliance Asks COSCO to Come Clean On Arctic Fuel Choice, August 2019

https://www.hfofreearctic.org/en/2019/08/12/clean-arctic-alliance-asks-cosco-to-come-clean-on-arctic-fuel-choice/

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

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

More Clean Arctic Alliance publications on heavy fuel oil in the Arctic can be downloaded here plus some useful infographics, and our Frequently Asked Questions can be found here.

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/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/CleanArctic

About Inuit Circumpolar Council Canada

The ICC in Canada is a non-profit organization led by a board of directors comprising the elected leaders of the four land-claims settlement regions: Inuvialuit, Nunatsiavut, Nunavik, and Nunavut. ICC is a  major international non-government organization representing approximately 160,000 Inuit of Alaska, Canada, Greenland, and Chukotka (Russia). The organization holds Consultative Status II at the United Nations.

More information about ICC Canada: https://www.inuitcircumpolar.com/icc-canada/

More information about ICC https://www.inuitcircumpolar.com/about-icc/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/icc_canada

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