There have been calls for the use of heavy fuel oil (HFO) to be banned by ships sailing in the Arctic.
Last week, a working group within Pollution Prevention and Response (PPR7) submitted a report that recommended banning this fuel from July 1 st 2024, Maritime Executive revealed.
This will now be considered by the International Maritime Organisation’s (IMO) Marine Environmental Protection Committee 76, with a decision expected to be made in autumn 2020.
HFO is the most common fuel used by the global shipping industry, due to the fact it is incredibly cheap.
However, it is the most environmentally damaging, with any leak of oil putting wildlife at risk and damaging the local environment.
In addition to this, HFO produces high carbon emission levels, emitting soot into the air when it is burned. This is particularly devastating in the Arctic, as it reduces the reflectiveness of the snow, which has a warming effect, causing them to melt more quickly.
Despite the many negative implications of using HFO, the PPR7 report has been regarded as too weak by many environmental campaigners, as it has a number of exceptions.
These include ships engaged in search and rescue or oil spill and preparedness and response are exempt, in addition to ships from countries whose coastlines border Arctic waters until
July 1 st 2029.
It is thought this clause was essential to gaining Russia’s support, as it wanted to operate in the waters using HFO, particularly when sailing between Murmansk and Tiksi.
While the proposed ban could have been stronger, the Clean Shipping Coalition and the World Wildlife Fund have spent years building this campaign up.
It gained particular traction last week when protestors erected a giant polar bear on top of an iceberg. They then carried signs that read: “Dirty ship fuels are a climate crime.”
Many countries supported the ban, including Denmark, Norway, Finland, Canada, Iceland, Sweden, and the USA.
Despite America’s general lack of action regarding climate change, it submitted an impact assessment to the IMO that stated an HFO ban would prevent “the loss of marine and natural resources important to the food security and subsistence culture of approximately 50,040 Alaskans, 41,785 of whom are Alaska Native / American Indians”.
Indeed, any HFO spills would detrimentally affect the diet and welfare of indigenous people, who rely on fishing in the waters for food.
There is currently a big drive to reduce the negative impact shipping has on the environment, with the industry nearly achieving its climate change target for 2030.
Climate Change News published results from the International Council On Clean
Transportation, which found CO2 intensity of international shipping dropped by almost a third between 2008 and 2018.
Indeed, it has reduced its carbon emissions by 30 per cent from 2008 levels, in part due to a reduction of the speed of ships, including those for sea freight forwarding services.
Due to the impressive improvement since the climate change target was set in 2017, the report stated: “The 2030 goal may be tightened when IMO revises the strategy in 2023.”