Today Members of the Environment Committee of the European Parliament called for a ban on the use of heavy fuel oil in the Arctic. Heavy fuel oil is the cheapest marine fuel and accounts for three quarters of all fuel carried in the fuel tanks of ships sailing in the Arctic. Heavy fuel oil is also one of the world’s dirtiest fuels, a waste product of the refining process. It is almost impossible to clean up in the event of a spill, and produces high levels of black carbon when burnt. Black carbon emissions accelerate the melting of Artic ice and contribute to climate change. Given the severe risks that heavy fuel oil poses to polar environments, the international shipping community has already banned its use in the Antarctic. It is now time to extend that ban to the Arctic.

The Marine Environment Protection Committee of the International Maritime Organisation will discuss the issue when it meets for its 72nd session in April 2018, and Seas At Risk welcomes the support of the Environmental Committee of the European Parliament for a progressive outcome to that process.

In parallel, the parliamentarians also reiterated their call from earlier this month that the International Maritime Organisation should adopt clear emissions reduction targets and immediate measures to reduce shipping’s greenhouse gas emissions at the global level, in line with the goals set by the Paris agreement. Shipping is responsible for around 3% of global manmade greenhouse gas emissions and this share could rise to 17% if no effective action is taken. 

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