Press Release

MEPs demand dirty fuel ban in the Arctic and global action on ship CO2

November 28, 2017

Today’s call by MEPs to ban the use of heavy fuel oil (HFO) in the Arctic and put in place greenhouse gas reduction measures by 2023 must be followed through with speedy action by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), said sustainable transport group Transport & Environment (T&E). Both Arctic HFO and climate action will be discussed by the IMO environment committee in April 2018, and today’s vote by the European Parliament environment committee also demanded action at EU level if the IMO fails to act on either issue. [1]

HFO is the residue of the modern oil refining process; it is viscous and almost impossible to clean up in the event of a spill on water or land. During combustion, HFO produces sulphur oxides and high levels of black carbon (BC) causing damage to the environment and human health and leading to global warming. It is also the cheapest fuel on the market today. As a result, it accounts for more than three-quarters of all fuel carried in fuel tanks of ships sailing in the Arctic.

Faig Abbasov, shipping policy officer at T&E, which is a member of Clean Arctic Alliance, said: “We welcome the European Parliament’s insistence to ban the use and carriage of heavy fuel oil by ships sailing in the Arctic. Protection of this polar region from dirty shipping has long been ignored and can no longer be tolerated. EU member states should carry the message to the IMO that it’s time to rid the Arctic of the dirtiest of all fuels.”

The parliamentarians also reiterated their call from earlier this month that the IMO should adopt clear emissions reduction targets and immediate measures to reduce international maritime CO2 emissions at the global level in line with the goals set by the Paris agreement. Shipping is responsible for around 3% of global manmade climate change and this share could rise to 17% if no effective action is taken.

Faig Abbasov concluded: “The IMO has failed for 20 years to act on shipping CO2 emissions. The representatives of European citizens made it clear we have no time to waste anymore. Either the IMO gets its act together and implements reduction measures before 2023, or the EU will have to.”

Note to editors:

[1] The European Parliament environment committee adopted the own-initiative report of MEP José Inácio Faria, International ocean governance: an agenda for the future of our oceans in the context of the 2030 SDGs