The European Parliament has adopted a resolution calling for strict EU rules to protect the Arctic, including from ship-source black carbon emissions, heavy fuel oil used in ships, and oil drilling.

The European Parliament has adopted a resolution calling for strict EU rules to protect the Arctic, including from ship-source black carbon emissions, heavy fuel oil used in ships, and oil drilling.

In regards to black carbon, the resolution "stresses the need for inclusion of black carbon emissions in the relevant UNECE and EU regulatory framework, such as the Convention on Long-Range Transboundary Air Pollution and the National Emissions Ceilings Directive."

Emissions of black carbon, often referred to as soot, are considered the second strongest contributor to global warming, after carbon dioxide emissions.

Emissions from ships in polar regions are a particular concern as soot settling on snow and ice has a powerful albido effect.

On offshore oil drilling, the resolution calls on Arctic States to ensure that oil companies who plan to undertake such an activity "within their respective maritime borders have the necessary safety technology and expertise in place and are financially prepared to prevent and respond to oil rig disasters and oil spills”.

Although falling short of the oil drilling moratorium called for by environmental NGOs, such as Seas At Risk, the Parliament resolution also calls for oil companies to “develop special expertise in preventing and handling oil spills in the [Arctic] region” in areas of "extreme weather conditions and high ecological fragility.

On heavy fuel oil - the most widely used and polluting marine fuel type - the resolution states that, like the Antarctic - where a ban on vessels using and transporting heavy fuel oil already operates – “a similar ban might be appropriate in Arctic waters to reduce risks to the environment in case of accidents” and that a "precautionary and scientifically robust approach" to any future development in the Arctic should be taken.

 

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