A major new study by the International Coalition for Clean Transportation has concluded that the environmental and economic risks of an oil spill of heavy fuel oil (HFO), are much higher than the savings associated with keeping using this fuel.to power ships in the Arctic

HFO is a cheap residue from the refining process, is highly viscous and very difficult to clean up in the event of a spill in cold and ice covered waters. The Arctic is warming twice as fast as other parts of the globe and as the ice melts more ships are expected to use the area. This will not just increase the risk of an oil spill but also increase emissions of black carbon in the region which will further accelerate climate change as it settle on the ice and changes the surface from a reflector to an absorber of solar radiation.

The report concludes that the long-term interests of the Arctic environment are best served by the prohibition of all petroleum-based fuels, but that the risks can be reduced quickly in the short-term by prohibiting the carriage and use of HFO in the region.

Seas At Risk, together with its partners in the Clean Arctic Alliance, will be pushing the IMO's Marine Environment Protection Committee when it meets in July to urgently address the risks posed by HFO use in the Arctic.

 

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