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. 
The EU and China have reacted to US president Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw the US from the Paris climate accord by agreeing to cooperate to ensure aviation and shipping play their part in tackling climate change. T&E has welcomed the agreement, but fears the US withdrawal will slow down progress in shipping. Such a worrying sentiment was felt within the shipping industry, too.
MEPs have called on the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) to ban the highly polluting marine fuel ‘heavy fuel oil’ – sometimes referred to as ‘residual fuel’ – from use in Arctic waters. The full European Parliament wants the IMO’s environment committee to discuss outlawing the use of HFO in the Arctic when it meets in July.
· MEPs also back tightening cap on aviation emissions.Support from ports and cargo owners for last week’s vote by MEPs to include shipping emissions in the EU emissions trading system (ETS) has been sharply criticised by shipowners. The European Community Shipowners' Associations (ECSA) said it ‘deplores’ the shipping industry’s backing for Europe regulating ship CO2 as a ‘first move’ to kick start action at global level. Shipping in Europe has CO2 emissions equal those of the Netherlands.
Today’s vote by MEPs to call for a ban on the use of heavy fuel oil (HFO), the dirtiest of all fuel types, by ships when operating in the Arctic has been welcomed by sustainable transport group Transport & Environment. In the event of an oil spill arising from a shipping accident, HFO is impossible to fully clean-up – with catastrophic effects on extremely vulnerable Arctic habitats. But the UN’s maritime body, the IMO, has so far failed to extend the prohibition to the northern polar region.
By Bill Hemmings, aviation and shipping directorWHAT WE LEARNED IN 2016: 2015 ended with big promises from the UN aviation and shipping bodies, ICAO and the IMO, that they’d finally act to rein in their sectors’ substantial and growing climate impact. It has been almost 20 years since they were first tasked with doing so by the Kyoto Protocol, and 2016 would be their last chance.
The poisonous sulphur content of marine fuels is to be capped at 0.5% by the year 2020, a move that is expected to prevent hundreds of thousands of premature deaths, mainly in the developing world. T&E applauded the decision by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), which had considered delaying the limit by five years but, after a sustained campaign by environmental groups, stayed with its original deadline.