The Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation has become the latest signatory to calls for an international ban on the use and carriage of heavy fuel oil (HFO) from Arctic shipping.
The Arctic Commitment has now been signed by 165 explorers, companies, non-governmental organisations and politicians, the Clean Arctic Alliance noted.
Launched in 2017 during the 2017 Arctic Frontiers conference in Tromso, Norway, the alliance has called on the International Maritime Organization (IMO) to prohibit the presence of HFO on ships in the region.
At present, around 80 per cent of shipping fuel in use if HFO, which means it would take significant concerted efforts to ensure such a change took place. However, the alliance notes, it is a “viscous and polluting” fuel that poses a major threat to a region already under threat from climate change, especially in the event of a spill.
Welcoming the Monegasque announcement, lead advisor of the Arctic Alliance Dr Sian Prior remarked that the signature of Prince Albert’s Foundation “demonstrates the increasing groundswell of support for a rapid phase-out of the use and carriage of HFO as fuel by ships operating in the Arctic”.
She added that with Arctic sea ice at an historically low level and shipping increasingly using the region to transport freight, it is of increasing importance for the industry to protect the area.
Olivier Wenden, the vice-president and CEO of the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation, said protecting the polar environment was a “top priority”.
He added: “We are proud to have been able to support more than 90 various projects in almost 15 years in these regions, whose issues are both local and global.”
A ban has been proposed by the IMO and, if ratified, will take effect in 2024. However, the Arctic Alliance has said this will only cut HFO use by 16 per cent.
According to the EU’s Copernicus Institute, the last six years have been the hottest on record, with arctic sea ice levels at the third lowest ever recorded levels.