NGOs call for heavy fuel oil ban in Icelandic Waters

Clean Arctic Alliance, Iceland Nature Conservation Association urged ban of use and carriage of heavy fuel oil.

Responding to the Government of Iceland’s second Climate Action Plan, published on 23 June, the Clean Arctic Alliance and the Iceland Nature Conservation Association (INCA) urged the government to go further by making a commitment to eliminate the use and carriage of heavy fuel oil (HFO) within Iceland’s 200 nautical mile Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).

“The Clean Arctic Alliance welcomes the Icelandic government’s publication of its second Climate Action Plan, and in particular recent moves to reduce the levels of sulphur emitted by ships in Iceland’s 12 mile territorial waters to 0.1% – equivalent to an emission control area in the Baltic and North Seas and on the west and east coasts of north America,” said Dr Sian Prior, Lead Advisor to the Clean Arctic Alliance. 

“This recently implemented measure, while important for the health of Icelanders and the country’s environment, will not however contribute to a reduction in the impact of greenhouse gases and short-lived climate forcers such as black carbon. A comprehensive ban on the use and carriage of HFO in Iceland’s 200 nautical mile EEZ would be more effective”, added Prior. 

The stated aim of Iceland’s new Climate Action Plan is to achieve a 35% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, and potentially further reductions of between 5 – 11% as a consequence of additional measures still in development. The plan will involve the allocation of EUR 292 million (US$330 million, ISK 46 billion) to climate-related measures between 2020 and 2024 – an almost seven-fold increase from the previous plan. The plan consists of 48 measures, of which 28 are already underway. 

Black carbon is a short-lived climate forcer and a critical contributor to human-induced climate warming, especially in the Arctic. It has a much greater warming impact when shipping occurs near reflective snow and ice, such as in the Arctic, and also has a negative impact on human health. 

A HFO ban in the Arctic, and within the Icelandic 200 mile EEZ would not only lead to a reduction of black carbon emissions by up to 40%, but by moving to a lighter distillate fuel would allow the installation of efficient particulate filters which could reduce black carbon emissions by over 90%. A comprehensive ban would also reduce the risks of a HFO spill in Iceland’s water.

Image credit: badahos /

The best maritime news and insights delivered to you.

subscribe maritime fairtrade

Here's what you can expect from us:

  • Event offers and discounts
  • News & key insights of the maritime industry
  • Expert analysis and opinions on corruption and more