Cleaner Shipping Fuel: A Must for Arctic Black Carbon Cuts

As the International Maritime Organization’s Pollution Prevention and Response Committee (PPR 10) convened on April 24, the Clean Arctic Alliance issued a compelling appeal to the IMO. They urge the organisation to take bold steps in significantly reducing the adverse effects of black carbon emissions from shipping on Arctic sea and glacier ice.

The Alliance proposes the implementation of a mandatory directive, which would require all ships operating within the Arctic region to transition to clean energy fuels. This approach not only champions the use of clean marine energy in the area but also lends crucial support to green shipping fuel initiatives by encouraging a shift towards distillate fuels.

This action by the Clean Arctic Alliance is a direct response to an open letter they published to IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim. In the letter, they urged Secretary-General Lim to implore all IMO members to address the Arctic climate crisis with the utmost urgency. Specifically, the Alliance emphasised the need for clean marine energy solutions to help reduce the carbon footprint of Arctic shipping.

“The reduction in black carbon emissions, which are a potent climate forcer, would be achieved through a mandatory fuel switch from dirty residual fuels to distillate fuels by ships operating across the broader Arctic, given the impact that shipping in and close to the Arctic regions can have on sea and glacier ice,” said Dr Sian Prior, Lead Advisor to the Clean Arctic Alliance, a coalition of 20 international non-profit organisations.

“The recent IPCC Synthesis Report makes clear that rapid, deep, and sustained action is needed across all sectors. To remain on or below a 1.5oC warming trajectory, ship climate impacts must be halved by 2030, with full decarbonisation close to 2040. This must include immediate cuts in black carbon emissions from ships, especially from those operating in and near the Arctic.”

“It is frustrating that the changes needed to rapidly reduce black carbon emissions from ships were not agreed and implemented when discussions on measures to reduce black carbon commenced over a decade ago. Reducing black carbon emissions does not require the development of new fuels or new technology. It simply requires cleaner fuel choices and the shipping sector catching up with what has been required of land-based power and transport systems for over a decade.”

The Clean Arctic Alliance also calls on IMO Members to bring forward proposals to designate Emission Control Areas (ECAs) in the Arctic and adjacent sea areas, such as the North Atlantic, where black carbon emitted from ships can reach the Arctic. The proposed ECAs should enforce stringent regulations promoting the use of clean marine energy and green shipping fuels.

Furthermore, the Alliance emphasises the pressing need for additional measures to curtail black carbon emissions. These measures include the development of a rigorous aromatic fuel standard and the implementation of a requirement for the installation of diesel particulate filters on ships operating in the Arctic.

“The Arctic, its wildlife, and its people are running out of time,” added Prior. “In 2010, the IMO Member States recognised the need for action to reduce black carbon emissions from ships – thirteen years later, the IMO must finally support mandatory action for measures that can be implemented quickly, such as a switch to cleaner fuels and use of filters, designation of emission control areas and the development of aromatic fuel standard.”

Photo credit: iStock/avstraliavasin

The best maritime news and insights delivered to you.

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