Clean Arctic Alliance slams proposed IMO’s Arctic regulation as full of dangerous loopholes

The proposed International Maritime Organization (IMO) ban would allow exemptions and waivers resulting in 84% of Arctic shipping continuing to burn HFO in the Arctic, and permitting 70% of vessels to still carry HFO as fuel.

Responding to the release of a new White Paper: The International Maritime Organization’s Proposed Arctic Heavy Fuel Oil Ban: Likely Impacts And Opportunities For Improvement by the International Council on Clean Transportation (iCCT), Clean Arctic Alliance Lead Advisor Dr Sian Prior said: “Now it’s clear the IMO’s proposed ban on HFO use in the Arctic is a ban in name only.

“Not only is it outrageous that the proposed International Maritime Organization ban includes exemptions and waivers which, as this new report shows, would allow 84% of the HFO used by Arctic shipping to still be burned, and 70% of the current HFO fuel volume on board vessels in the Arctic to still be carried, but we are also concerned that the regulation could result in lower standards being applied to ships flying Arctic coastal State flags and greater risks in the vulnerable inshore waters that are most important for Indigenous communities.” 

The ICCT paper finds that the initial implementation of a proposed IMO ban on heavy fuel oil from Arctic shipping, along with proposed exemptions for ships with protected fuel tanks and waivers for Arctic coastal nations’ ships operating in their own waters, will fail to protect the Arctic by allowing business as usual for most shipping operators in the region, and could fuel a race towards lower safety standards.

“If an Arctic country can waive the ban for its own ships, but is required to enforce the ban for all ships flying other flags in their waters, an unlevel playing field will have been created. In addition, waiving the ban for its own ships could compromise an Arctic coastal country’s ability to ensure that activities under their control do not cause damage to the waters and environment of neighboring countries, or that pollution does not spread to neighboring countries.

“In addition, since the exemptions apply to newer ships, the continued use and carriage of HFO in the Arctic is likely to increase after the ban takes effect, as older ships are removed from the fleet and newer ships with protected fuel tanks replace them.

“This is simply not good enough, it doesn’t provide the Arctic, its ecosystem, wildlife and communities with the protection it so desperately needs. The Clean Arctic Alliance is calling for the draft regulation to be strengthened and for exclusions and waivers to not be allowed.

“We share the concerns of Arctic communities about the potential socioeconomic costs of banning the use and carriage of HFO in the Arctic, but believe that there are clear socio-economic benefits of eliminating HFO spills in the Arctic, so the Clean Arctic Alliance calls on national governments to support the transition from HFO to alternative fuels to mitigate any negative socio-economic impacts for northern communities.”

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