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NGOs hail Greenland HFO ban support

Clean Arctic Alliance applauds government's commitment to 'actively work for a ban'.



Vessel pictured off the coast of Greenland. Image credit: Hubert Neufeld / Unsplash


Updated on 19 Sep 2018 09:37 GMT

NGO coalition Clean Arctic Alliance has hailed an announcement made by the government (Naalakkersuisut) of Greenland suporting a ban on the use and carriage of heavy fuel oil (HFO) by ships in the Arctic.

Commenting on the news, Kare Press-Kristensen, Senior Advisor to the Danish Ecological Council, a member of the Clean Arctic Alliance, remarked: "We applaud Greenland's government for speaking up for the much needed protection of the Arctic's nature and communities, by supporting the banning of the world's most polluting fuel - heavy fuel oil. After spending time measuring air pollution from cruise ships burning HFO in Greenland this summer, I'm very relieved that Greenlandic politicians support banning it."

In its statement, Greenland's government had said: "Naalakkersuisut has agreed to actively work for a ban on HFO in the Arctic, via the UN International Maritime Organization (IMO). The prohibition must cover both navigation and transport of HFO in the Arctic. Naalakkersuisut's position on the case has awaited an analysis of the socio-economic, environmental and climate consequences for Greenland of a possible ban on sailing on HFO in the Arctic.

"The Ministry of Nature and Environment states that the analysis is now available and, on this basis, Naalakkersuisut has decided to support a ban on sailing and transport of HFO in the Arctic. The analysis shows that a ban on sailing on HFO will be associated with a socioeconomic cost of approximately 8.1 million kroner [EUR 1.085 million/ $1.268 million] annually.

"A very important reason for avoiding HFO in Arctic waters is that marine casualties, which lead to waste of HFO in the marine environment, can have major environmental and economic consequences. HFO is very difficult and partly impossible to collect at low sea temperatures. Therefore, in case of major spill of HFO, there is a high risk that the oil will remain in the water for a long time or on the coasts that the oil may endanger."

In April 2018, the International Maritime Organization's Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC72) agreed to move forward on developing of a Arctic ban on HFO - which is already banned in Antarctic waters.

MEPC72 directed one of its sub-committees (PPR6) - which will meet in early 2019 - to develop a ban on heavy fuel oil use and carriage for use by ships in the Arctic, "on the basis of an assessment of the impacts" and "on an appropriate timescale".

"Arctic summer sea ice is approximately half the extent it was in the 1970s and half the volume, while the region's strongest sea ice has broken up twice this year, for the first time on record. The use of heavy fuel oil in the Arctic not only increases the risk of devastating oil spills, but it also generates higher emissions of black carbon, which exacerbate the melting of both sea and glacier ice," Clean Arctic Alliance stressed.

Sian Prior, Clean Arctic Alliance Lead Advisor, added: "With MEPC73 coming up next month in London, Greenland's backing of a ban on the world's dirtiest shipping fuel in the Arctic is a timely encouragement for IMO member state governments to strengthen their commitment to quickly end the use and carriage of heavy fuel oil in Arctic waters. The best thing IMO member states can now do for their domestic shipping industries is to send a clear signal for investment in alternatives to HFO. We're also calling on shipping companies crossing the Arctic - such as Maersk and COSCO - to show industry leadership and move towards cleaner fuels, and to commit to decarbonised forms of propulsion in the future."






Related Links:

Cosco urged to clarify what fuel it used in the Arctic
NGOs challenge Maersk to 'come clean' on Arctic fuel use
Fednav urged to ban Arctic HFO use as NGOs call out second shipper in 24 hours
PPR6 to develop Arctic HFO ban as nations urge 2021 implementation

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