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Coalition calls for HFO ban in Arctic waters

19 Oct 2016 08:14 GMT

LNG and distillate fuels are 'a step in the right direction', say NGOs.



As delegates gather next week in London for the International Maritime Organization's (IMO) Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) meeting, a coalition of international non-governmental organisations (NGOs), The Clean Arctic Alliance, is calling for an end to the use of heavy fuel oil (HFO) in Arctic waters.

At the MEPC meeting, due to be held at IMO's headquarters between 24th and 28th October, discussions relating to marine fuels are expected to predominate as the body also considers deadlines for setting sulphur limits for fuels.

During the IMO meeting, a panel of Arctic indigenous speakers from Russia, the United States, and Canada will address the IMO, at the invitation the Clean Arctic Alliance, in a 30-minute session focusing on the need for ongoing indigenous engagement from the IMO. The speakers include Eduard Zdor of the Association of Traditional Marine Mammal Hunters of Chukotka; Hans Lennie of the Inuvik Hunters and Trappers Committee and the Inuvialuit Game Council; and Tagak Curley, president of Nunavut Construction Corporation. They are expected to outline the benefits and threats posed by shipping to food security and the way of life in the north, and specific measures the MEPC can take, including banning HFO, in order to eliminate spill risk and the impact of emissions, as well as taking stronger environmental provisions in the Polar Code.

"The International Maritime Organization must begin the immediate phase-out of heavy fuel oils from Arctic waters. We urge the International Maritime Organization to adopt a legally binding instrument to end the use of HFO as marine fuel in Arctic waters by 2020," said Sian Prior, Advisor to the Clean Arctic Alliance.

On the issue of alternative marine fuels, the NGO coalition commented: "Phasing out HFO, and replacing it with cleaner, more efficient fuels - such as so-called transition fuels, like LNG or lighter distillate fuels - is a step in the right direction."

The use of heavy fuel oil is already banned throughout Antarctica and in the national park waters around the Norwegian Arctic archipelago of Svalbard, leaving a strictly regulated corridor for ships to access the islands.

"Phasing out HFO for fuel in Arctic waters is the most direct mechanism for mitigating the numerous consequences of an HFO spill and reducing harmful emissions in the Arctic region," added Prior.

Members of the Clean Arctic Alliance include: Bellona, Clean Air Task Force, Danish Ecological Council, Environmental Investigation Agency, European Climate Foundation, Friends of the Earth US, International Council on Clean Transportation, Icelandic Nature Conservation Association, Nature and Biodiversity Conservation Union, Ocean Conservancy, Pacific Environment, Seas At Risk, Transport & Environment and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).






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