The Arctic is particular vulnerable to climate change and to the environmental impacts of shipping.

The Arctic is warming at least twice as fast as the global average with emissions of black carbon (sometimes known as soot) making a significant contribution. Ice normally reflects solar radiation but black carbon falling on ice absorbs it helping accelerate warming and ice melt. Black carbon comes from various sources, but shipping is a significant and growing part of the problem. As the ice melts, ships can shorten their routes by sailing through the Artic sea and shipping activity in the Arctic is predicted to grow significantly.

Seas At Risk is pushing for the International Maritime Organisation to agree measures that would limit black carbon emissions from international shipping.

Dirty ship fuels contribute to black carbon emissions and Seas at Risk is also working with the Clean Arctic Alliance towards a ban on the use of heavy fuel oil (HFO), the dirtiest of ships fuels, in the Arctic. This will reduce black carbon emissions and the risk of a heavy fuel oil spill in the Arctic. The latter is of particular concern as a heavy fuel oil spill in Arctic waters would be impossible to clean up effectively, and have a serious impact on wildlife and the natural resources that the traditional inhabitants of the Arctic often rely on for their livelihoods. For more on the “HFO Free Arctic” campaign look here.