The United States and Canada are moving closer to phase out the use of heavy fuel oil (HFO) from vessels operating in the Arctic waters through a strategy to rid the region of the dirtiest marine fuel, according to the Clean Arctic Alliance.
Namely, the countries are launching the first processes ever to identify sustainable shipping lanes throughout their connected Arctic waters, in collaboration with Northern and Indigenous partners.
The US and Canada have also agreed to propose a plan for the next meeting of the International Maritime Organization’s Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC 71) in July 2017 in order to implement the work necessary for a phase out.
“The Clean Arctic Alliance applauds the commitment of President Obama and Prime Minister Trudeau to develop a concrete proposal to phase down HFO use in the Arctic,” Sian Prior, Clean Arctic Alliance advisor, said.
“HFO is the dirtiest fuel available to the shipping industry, and poses threats from spills and black carbon emissions that are too great to ignore,” Prior said, adding that “for the sake of the marine environment and the coastal communities and wildlife that depend upon it, it is clear that Arctic shipping cannot continue relying on HFO as fuel.”
HFO powers 44% of the ships currently operating in the Arctic, but it accounts for more than 75% of the fuel onboard Arctic ships, according to International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) figures.
Heavy fuel oil is already banned throughout Antarctica, and in the national park waters around the Norwegian Arctic archipelago of Svalbard.