LONDON — Stand.earth, a member of the Clean Arctic Alliance international coalition, today applauded progress by International Maritime Organization Member States toward banning use of the world’s dirtiest fuel — heavy fuel oil — from Arctic shipping. Stand.earth urged Member States to make every effort to adopt and rapidly implement a ban by 2021, as proposed by eight Member States and supported by other countries during the meeting.
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), which closed today in London. 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” .
“Arctic communities and ecosystems will be protected from the threat of oil spills and the impact of soot emissions on accelerated sea ice melt, thanks to the inspired and motivated action taken by a number of Member States to move toward a ban on heavy fuel oil,” said Kendra Ulrich, Senior Shipping Campaigner with Stand.earth.
“Ending the use of heavy fuel oil in the Arctic waters is the most effective way to avoid the environmental threats it poses to this fragile ecosystem.”
“It may take several years for the full adoption and implementation of the heavy fuel oil ban at the IMO. Industry actors that use heavy fuel oil, such as cruise industry giant Carnival Corporation, are not bound to these same diplomatic timelines. They can and must follow the lead of the IMO and act now to end their use of the world’s dirtiest fossil fuel,” said Ulrich.
The strongly-worded proposal to ban HFO as shipping fuel from Arctic waters was co-sponsored by Finland, Germany, Iceland, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden and the US . This, along with a proposal to assess the impact of such ban on Arctic communities proposed by Canada, was supported by Denmark — the sixth Arctic nation to back the ban — along with Australia, Belgium, Czech Republic, Estonia, France, Ireland, Japan, the League of Arab States, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Switzerland, and the UK.
“I am grateful that IMO has advanced a ban on HFO to help protect Arctic communities and our traditional way of life. For thousands of years we have relied on our pristine waters and wildlife – and now the IMO has taken this important step to help protect our people and environment,” said Verner Wilson, an Alaskan and Clean Arctic Alliance member. Wilson is the Senior Oceans Campaigner for Friends of the Earth US, and a member of Curyung Tribal Council. He has Yupik family roots in the Bering Strait region between Russia and the US.
Despite actors in the shipping sector pushing for other risk mitigation options in an effort continue use of heavy fuel oil, there is widespread support for banning HFO in the Arctic. In stark contrast to Carnival, which is installing scrubbers to meet stricter fuel standards that aim to reduce sulphur oxides (SOx) emissions rather than switching to cleaner fuels from dirty HFO, the Association of Arctic Expedition Cruise Operators (AECO) supports banning HFO use in the Arctic. The Norwegian Shipowners Association and icebreaker company Arctia have also expressed their support for a ban.
The IMO’s Marine Environment Protection Committee also approved a draft plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions across the shipping sector.
“While not as ambitious as it could be, the greenhouse gas reduction strategy is a positive step down the path to addressing the shipping industry’s significant climate footprint. It is clear that continuing to burn a fossil fuel so dirty it is classified as hazardous waste on land is incompatible with addressing the urgent and immediate climate crisis,” said Kendra Ulrich, Senior Shipping Campaigner with Stand.earth.
“The shipping industry must end its use of heavy fuel oil, starting with the Arctic and sub-Arctic. Stand.earth urges Carnival cruises and its ten subsidiaries to show it can live up to the environmental image it portrays. It is past time for Carnival to end its use of heavy fuel oil and lead the way toward the clean shipping future,” said Ulrich.
 In addition to assessing the impact of a ban on communities and developing a ban on HFO use and carriage as fuel in the Arctic, the Sub-Committee on Pollution Prevention and Response (PPR) meeting PPR 6, which will be held in February 2019 will develop a definition of HFO taking into account regulation 43 of MARPOL Annex I (the Antarctic HFO ban) and prepare a set of guidelines on mitigation measures to reduce risks of use and carriage of HFO as fuel by ships in Arctic waters.
 The proposal, Development Of Measures to Reduce Risks Of Use and Carriage Of Heavy Fuel Oil as Fuel By Ships in Arctic Waters: Proposal to ban heavy fuel oil use and carriage as fuel by ships in Arctic waters, was submitted by Finland, Germany, Iceland, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden and the United States. The text includes:
“A single HFO spill could have devastating and lasting effects on fragile Arctic marine and coastal environments. In addition, Arctic shipping is projected to continue to rise, thus increasing the risk of a spill. For these reasons, the ban on HFO should be implemented as soon as possible, and any delay in implementation of the HFO ban by eligible ships should be short-lived… The co-sponsors propose that the implementation date of the ban be set for no later than the end of 2021.”
Virginia Cleaveland, Press Secretary, Stand.earth, firstname.lastname@example.org, 510-858-9902 (PDT)
Kendra Ulrich, Senior Shipping Campaigner, Stand.earth: email@example.com, +44 7586 049670 (London GMT +1/PDT +8)