Clean Arctic Alliance Asks Nordic Prime Ministers To Support A Ban On HFO
Clean Arctic Alliance’s Lead Advisor, Dr. Sian Prior and Árni Finnsson from the Iceland Nature Conservation Association have requested the Nordic Prime Ministers and the German Federal Chancellor to support the ban on heavy fuel oil in the Arctic at their gathering in Reykjavik, Iceland, Clean Arctic Alliance said in its release.
“We urgently need a strong commitment from the Nordic Prime Ministers and Ms Merkel to ban the use and carriage of heavy fuel oil or HFO in the Arctic,” says Prior. “This is an essential and easy first step to contribute to reducing the warming we are currently experiencing in the Arctic, and to remove the risk of devastating HFO spills. Better protection for the Arctic against the impact of increased shipping and other developments in the region is essential for the future of the Arctic ecosystem, and the communities and wildlife which depend on the clean snow and ice habitats”.
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Finnsson adds “This summer we have measured the emissions from cruise ships in Iceland and shown how polluting the burning of HFO can be. We need to ban HFO use and carriage in the Arctic and extend the ban to cover all of Iceland’s waters to protect our own ecosystems and the health of our people.”
HFO is the dirtiest form of fuel used by ships operating in the Arctic. Not only is HFO virtually impossible to clean-up in the event of a spill, when it is burnt as fuel in ships’ engines, black carbon is emitted into the atmosphere along with other pollutants. When the black carbon settles out from the atmosphere onto snow and ice, it speeds up melting and leads to the absorption of more heat from the sun into the Arctic.
The Nordic Prime Ministers and German Federal Chancellor will hold a working lunch meeting which is expected to discuss measures to combat climate change, and other global trends.
About Heavy Fuel Oil
Heavy fuel oil is a dirty and polluting fossil fuel that powers ships throughout seas and oceans – accounting for 80% of marine fuel used worldwide. Around 75% of marine fuel currently carried in the Arctic is HFO; over half by vessels flagged to non-Arctic states – countries that have little if any connection to the Arctic.
The Arctic is under pressure – climate change is fuelling temperature rises double the rate of further south. As sea ice melts and opens up Arctic waters further, even larger non-Arctic state-flagged vessels running on HFO are likely to divert to Arctic waters in search of shorter journey times. This, combined with an increase in Arctic state-flagged vessels targeting previously non-accessible resources, will greatly increase the risks of HFO spills.
Already banned in Antarctic waters, if HFO is spilled in cold polar waters, it breaks down slowly, proving almost impossible to clean up. An HFO spill would have long-term devastating effects on Arctic indigenous communities, livelihoods and the marine ecosystems they depend upon.
About the Clean Arctic Alliance
The following not-for-profit organizations form the Clean Arctic Alliance, which is committed to a ban on HFO as a marine fuel in the Arctic:
Alaska Wilderness League, Bellona, Clean Air Task Force, Danish Ecological Council, Ecology and Development Foundation ECODES, Environmental Investigation Agency, European Climate Foundation, Friends of the Earth US, Greenpeace, Iceland Nature Conservation Association, Nature And Biodiversity Conservation Union, Ocean Conservancy, Pacific Environment, Seas At Risk, Surfrider Foundation Europe, Stand.Earth, Transport & Environment and WWF.