The International Maritime Organisation (IMO) has moved a step closer to banning the carriage of high-sulphur fuels. The ban, if approved, would make it much easier to enforce the new sulphur standard for marine fuels from 2020.
A Norwegian ship has made the first-ever unassisted winter crossing of the Northern Sea Route. The Eduard Toll knocked around 3,000 nautical miles off its journey from South Korea to France via northern Russia without needing to be accompanied by an icebreaker. T&E says this journey was only possible due to climate change and will lead to further damage to the fragile Arctic ecosystem.
Almost every Christmas gift you gave or received two months ago was transported vast distances across the ocean, spending weeks inside a shipping container. What powers these epic journeys across the globe? Unfortunately, it’s not reindeers. It’s the black, sludgy dregs of the refining process known as heavy fuel oil. Each tonne, when burned, releases several thousand times the amount of sulphur and tiny lung-damaging particles that petrol or diesel cars do, while also contributing to dangerous climate change.
Moves to close a loophole in enforcement of the cap on high-sulphur marine fuel, which comes into effect in January 2020, have been welcomed by the Clean Shipping Coalition (CSC). Ships will be banned at that time from burning any marine fuel with a sulphur content above 0.5%, but the ban does not prevent ships from carrying fuel exceeding the 0.5% limit. This opens up the possibility of massive avoidance by unscrupulous operators when operating out of sight on the high seas.
Leading shipping industry and environmental organisations have added their support to the growing calls for a ban on carrying shipping fuel that does not meet new sulphur content regulations. The signatories, which include T&E, say making it an offence to carry non-compliant high-sulphur shipping fuel would be the easiest and most effective way to enforce the ban on such fuel being burned at sea.
Leading environmental organisations and the global shipping industry have joined in calling for an explicit prohibition on the carriage of non-compliant marine fuels when the global 0.5% sulphur cap takes effect in 2020.
Some 35 world leaders have called for shipping emissions to be part of every country’s emissions reductions commitments under the Paris climate agreement. Sustainable transport group Transport & Environment (T&E) welcomed the leaders’ recognition of the need for economy-wide action, as mandated by the 2015 accord, with shipping being a key sector – responsible for around 3% of global CO2 emissions.
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. 
This opinion article, by Faig Abbasov, Aviation and shipping officer was first published by Huffpost.Imagine writing a diet plan to lose weight where your calorific targets consistently exceeded what you were actually eating.Bizarre as it sounds, that’s effectively what the UN’s shipping body - the International Maritime Organisation - did when it released efficiency standards for the global fleet in 2013.