Greenland Supports Ban of HFO in Arctic

ShippingIllustration. Image Courtesy: Pxhere under CC0 Creative Commons license

The Government of Greenland (Naalakkersuisut) has voiced its support for International Maritime Organization’s ban on the use and carriage of heavy fuel oil in the Arctic region.

Namely, the government has agreed to actively work for a ban on HFO in Arctic shipping, covering both navigation and transport of HFO in the region.

The move follows an analysis undertaken by Greenland, which showed that an HFO ban on sailing will be associated with a socioeconomic cost of around DKK 8.1 million (USD 1.27 million) per year. The authority explained that HFO should be avoided due to dangers involving maritime casualties which can have major environmental and economic consequences.

In April 2018, IMO member states committed to developing a ban on HFO use and carriage in the Arctic “on the basis of an assessment of the impacts” and “on an appropriate timescale”. The decision was made during the 72nd session of IMO’s Marine Environment Protection Committee, which resulted in the adoption of shipping’s Green House Gas (GHG) strategy. Under the scheme, the shipping sector is required to reduce its emissions by at least 50 pct by 2050 compared to 2008.

Kåre Press-Kristensen, Senior Advisor to the Danish Ecological Council, a member of the Clean Arctic Alliance, said that the Alliance applauds Greenland “for speaking up for the much needed protection of the Arctic’s nature and communities.”

Arctic summer sea ice is approximately half the extent it was in the 1970s and half the volume, while the region’s strongest sea ice has broken up twice this year, for the first time on record. The use of heavy fuel oil in the Arctic not only increases the risk of devastating oil spills, but it also generates higher emissions of black carbon, which exacerbate the melting of both sea and glacier ice, Clean Arctic Alliance explained.

“The best thing IMO member states can now do for their domestic shipping industries is to send a clear signal for investment in alternatives to HFO. We’re also calling on shipping companies crossing the Arctic – such as Maersk and COSCO – to show industry leadership and move towards cleaner fuels, and to commit to decarbonised forms of propulsion in the future,” Sian Prior, Clean Arctic Alliance Lead Advisor, said.

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