Member states of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) have backed a proposal to seek out ways to reduce the risks posed by the use of heavy fuel oil (HFO) in Arctic waters. The states called on the IMO to work towards a swift conclusion of the work.
Measures to Reduce Risks of Use and Carriage of Heavy Fuel Oil as Fuel by Ships in Arctic Waters was proposed by Canada, Finland, Germany, Iceland, the Netherlands, Norway and the US, and supported this week by the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, France, Poland, Singapore, Spain and Sweden. The support was voiced during the IMO’s Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC 71) that was concluded last week. Concrete proposals for measures to reduce the risks of HFO will now be considered by MEPC 72 in April 2018.
About three-quarters of marine fuel currently carried in the Arctic is HFO; with more than half being by vessels flagged to non-Arctic states. HFO is already banned in Antarctic waters. Environmental groups say that if HFO is spilled in the colder waters of the Arctic, it breaks down slowly, with long-term devastating effects on both livelihoods and ecosystems. Also, when 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, it is claimed.