The International Maritime Organization (IMO) approved on Friday a ban on the use of heavy fuel oil for ships in the Arctic, but environmental organizations slammed the new regulation as “riddled with loopholes” that would continue to exonerate some polluters well into the end of 2020s. The Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) of the UN’s organization IMO moved to ban the use of heavy fuel oil (HFO) and its carriage for use by ships in Arctic waters after July 1, 2024.
The controversy in the new regulation arises from several provisions. One exempts ships with oil fuel tanks inside their double hull, while another gives countries in Arctic waters the right to issue waivers from the HFO ban for vessels flying their respective flags in the Arctic until July 1, 2029.
The Clean Arctic Alliance slammed on Friday the approval of “a ban ridden with loopholes on the use and carriage of heavy fuel oil in the Arctic (HFO), saying that it would leave the Arctic, its Indigenous communities and its wildlife facing the risk of a HFO spill for another decade.”
“By taking the decision to storm ahead with the approval of this outrageous ban, the IMO and its member states must take collective responsibility for failing to put in place true protection of the Arctic, Indigenous communities and wildlife from the threat of heavy fuel oil”, Dr Sian Prior, Lead Advisor to the Clean Arctic Alliance, said in a statement.
“It is now crucial that Arctic coastal states do not resort to issuing waivers to their flagged vessels,” Prior added.
According to a 2020 white paper from the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT), HFO use in the Arctic jumped by 75 percent between 2015 and 2019.
“As newer ships enter the Arctic fleet, especially oil tankers and bulk carriers, more ships will qualify for exemptions. Additionally, if ships reflag to Arctic states, more could qualify for waivers and the effectiveness of the ban would be further eroded,” ICCT said in its paper in September.
By Josh Owens for Oilprice.com
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