NGOs urge Nordic Council to support Arctic ban on heavy fuel oil

The Clean Arctic Alliance, Iceland Nature Conservation Association and Green Transition Denmark urge Nordic ministers to ban the use of heavy fuel oil in the Arctic and to minimize damaging emissions of pollutants that accelerate the melting of Arctic ice, such as black carbon.

The NGOs made this statement on the publication of the new report “Reducing risks and increasing environmental security in Arctic Waters”.

The report, funded by the Nordic Council of Ministers and authored by Nauja Bianco of Isuma Consulting, outlines in the first paragraph of its Executive Summary the “evident risks to human safety and environmental security related to an increase of shipping in the Arctic”, including “carriage and transport of Heavy Fuel Oil (HFO) and toxic hybrid fuel oils, use of HFO and atmospheric emissions”.

Of the report’s 12 recommendations to the Nordic Council, the first calls for “Nordic cooperation on enforcement of stricter grade oil requirements to mitigate risks related to oil spills from carriage and transport of Heavy Fuel Oil (HFO) and toxic hybrid fuel oils” and proposes that “work should be undertaken to ban HFO in the Arctic, while simultaneously supporting development of new, less toxic and more energy-efficient and sustainable fuel types to replace HFO globally.” 

It also recommends Nordic promotion of regulations preventing environmentally harmful shipping emissions in order to minimize damaging emissions, including reduction of sulphur concentration and other accelerating ice-melting pollutants”.

“We urge Nordic ministers to not only heed the sage advice detailed in this report on the need to ban heavy fuel oil from Arctic shipping, but to also take a strong lead on promoting an effective implementation of a ban at the International Maritime Organization”, said Dr Sian Prior, Lead Advisor to the Clean Arctic Alliance. 

“Ridding the Arctic of heavy fuel oil will not only protect Indigenous communities and wildlife from the horror of oil spills, along with its climate and health damaging pollution impacts, but moving to relatively cleaner fuels will enable efficient particulate filters to be used which will dramatically reduce emissions of black carbon.”

“Banning HFO in the Arctic is a first step towards responsible Arctic shipping; by moving to distillate fuels, ships could retrofit particulate filters and eliminate emissions in the climate-sensitive and ice-covered Arctic region, which is already warming much faster than the rest of the planet”, said Kåre Press-Kristensen of Det Økologiske Råd (Green Transition Denmark), a member of the Clean Arctic Alliance.

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