The Arctic Council Ministerial provides a unique opportunity for foreign ministers to demonstrate global leadership by committing to rapid, Arctic-wide elimination of heavy fuel oil, and to immediate reduction in black carbon emissions from shipping. These commitments can be enshrined in the 2021 Reykjavik Declaration, to be issued at the conclusion of the meeting.
Heavy fuel oil is thick and has a tar-like consistency. That makes spills involving it a major environmental concern. HFO is commonly used to fuel shipping vessels, including in Arctic waters. However, the International Maritime Organization has recently approved a ban on HFO in the Arctic to take effect after July 1, 2024.
“This week’s Arctic Council Ministerial provides a unique opportunity for foreign ministers to demonstrate global leadership by committing to immediate reductions in black carbon emissions from shipping and rapid, Arctic-wide elimination of heavy fuel oil”, said Dr Sian Prior, Lead Advisor to the Clean Arctic Alliance.
“Heavier oils and crude generally don’t evaporate much and instead of dispersing they form emulsions with the sea water, are much more persistent, spread further and will sink and become mixed with sediments or on coastlines will smother the beaches, rocks,” said Sian Prior, lead advisor with the Clean Arctic Alliance coalition, which has sought to ban the use of heavy fuel oil by ships in the sensitive Arctic region.
“Bacteria will work to degrade these oils too but it takes longer. These types of oil spills lead to much greater volumes of oiled material being retrieved as they coat anything.”
Use of scrubbers with heavy fuel oil is ‘not a good solution’, according to International Council on Clean Transportation
How can the shipping industry become actors of positive change for the Arctic region? How can we inspire political will and decisive action by governments? What role can Iceland and other Arctic Council states play? How can we save the summer sea ice for Arctic communities and the health of the planet? Join us on April 27 to find out.
Article by the Clean Arctic Alliance’s Dr Sian Prior in Marine & Oceans, issue 270: “The Arctic is changing, with climate heating having a greater impact on the region than anywhere else on Earth. Not only does this create greater climatic uncertainty for those living both inside and beyond the Arctic, the loss of sea ice opens up the Arctic to new threats, such as oil spills from expanded shipping operations.”
To stop emitting CO2, shipping must equip its entire fleet with propulsion technologies that do not yet exist. Cutting black carbon — responsible for 7%-21% of shipping’s climate impact — would be much easier
The IMO’s pollution subcommittee failed to agree on measures to control black carbon emissions from shipping in the Arctic, to green groups’ dismay. States said more studies and debate were needed before rules could be set, despite warnings of soaring pollution from ships.
As this week’s virtual meeting of the International Maritime Organization’s Pollution Prevention and Response Sub-Committee (IMO, PPR 8) closes today, non-governmental organisations slammed the IMO proposal to develop weak non-binding “goal-based guidelines” instead of taking immediate and effective action to immediately reduce climate-warming emissions of black carbon from ships using heavy fuel oil in the Arctic.