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EU Arctic resolution vote calls for HFO ban

Resolution passed by European Parliament in 483/100 plenary vote.

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Updated on 16 Mar 2017 13:55 GMT

The European Parliament has today passed its resolution on the Arctic in a 483/100 plenary vote.

The Arctic resolution is a non-legislative document, which together with conclusions by the EU Council, is designed to guide future EU policy addressing environmental risks in the Arctic.

It follows the joint communication in April 2016 by the European Commission (EC) and High Representative to develop a more coherent framework for EU action and funding programmes, which fell short of calling for a ban on heavy fuel oil (HFO) use by ships in the Arctic, but was supportive of environmental protection.

The resolution adopted today "calls on the Commission and the Member States to take all necessary measures to actively facilitate the ban on the use of HFO and carriage as ship fuel in vessels navigating the Arctic seas through the MARPOL Convention, and/or through port state control as regulated in the waters surrounding Antarctica".

Today's resolution also "invites the Commission to include the environmental and climate risks of the use of HFO in its study on the risks that the increase in navigation of the Northern Sea Route would bring", and "calls on the Commission, in the absence of adequate international measures, to put forward proposals on rules for vessels calling at EU ports subsequent to, or prior to, journeys through Arctic waters, with a view to prohibiting the use and carriage of HFO".

Responding to today's vote, Dr Sian Prior, lead advisor to the Clean Arctic Alliance, said: "Today, the elected representatives of European citizens have delivered a clear message to the International Maritime Organization - 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."

Faig Abbasov, shipping policy officer at Transport & Environment, remarked: "We welcome the European Parliament's clear call for a ban on the use of the refinery residues by ships in the Arctic. 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."

The International Maritime Organization's Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) is scheduled to meet this July in London, where it is expected that there will be a submission on the risks of using HFO in Arctic shipping.

Related Links:

MEPs push for Arctic HFO ban
IMO chief discusses 2017 regulation for polar shipping
US and Canada to phase out HFO use in the Arctic
Coalition calls for Arctic HFO ban following 'crucial' IMO decision

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