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  • Polar Code ‘lacks ambition’

    The International Maritime Organisation earlier this month reached preliminary agreement on a ‘Polar Code’ of safety and environmental rules for ships in the Arctic and Antarctic. But the final draft contains few meaningful environmental provisions, such as requiring vessels to have strengthened hulls or even operate at reduced speed in supposedly ‘ice-free’ waters.

    The code also fails to combat heavy fuel, the dirtiest transport fuel, which is already banned in the Antarctic but not the Arctic. T&E, a member of the Clean Shipping Coalition, and other environmental organisations say the prospect of the code had raised hopes that the IMO would take meaningful steps to protect this unique environment from the effects of increased shipping activity due to the sea-ice melt. But the IMO has failed almost completely to rise to the task.
     
    Black carbon emissions – widely recognised as the second most important agent of climate change after CO2 – and ballast water discharges have also not been addressed. T&E’s Bill Hemmings said: “A Polar Code which fails to address the major environmental dangers of increased shipping opens the door to potentially catastrophic consequences should a disaster happen.”