European Parliament calls for Arctic ban on use of dirtiest shipping fuel

Published by Eric Maher on

16th March 2017

Sustainable Transport group, Transport & Environment (T&E) are insisting today’s EU call for a ban on the use of heavy-fuel oil (HFO) by ships when sailing in the Arctic be met with swift action by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO)

HFO is the dirtiest of all fuel types and, in the event of a spill, is virtually impossible to clean up. It also produces higher levels of air and climate pollutants than other marine fuels.

It accounts for 75% of fuel used by Arctic-going ships, it puts polar habitats, already fragile, at high risk. Its combustion produces black carbon particles that accelerate ice melting by absorbing more radiation thus warming the atmosphere, as well as reducing the reflection of sunlight by ice back into space.

Burning HFO also emits air pollutants with serious effects on human health. Its use has already been banned from the Antarctic. T&E are calling on The IMO to do the same in the Arctic as a matter of urgency.

TransportEnvironmentShipping policy officer at T&E, Faig Abbasov, said: “The next meeting of the IMO’s environment committee is an important occasion to start formal discussions on addressing the risks related to using heavy fuel oil in the Arctic. Today’s vote should be a clear signal for EU member states to put heavy fuel oil on the IMO’s agenda in its next meeting.”

 Dr Sian Prior, lead advisor to the Clean Arctic Alliance, echoes his sentiments. “ It’s time to ban the use of heavy fuel oil from Arctic shipping.  By putting a ban in place by 2020, the IMO has an opportunity to reduce both the impact of oil spills and the levels of pollutants which drive the melting of Arctic snow and ice.”

The WWF have recently spoken out against HFO. Click here to for three of their reasons for phasing it out.

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Eric Maher

Eric Maher is a contributor to the Green News. He has a Masters in Anglo-Irish Literature and Drama from UCD.