The government of Greenland has agreed to support a ban on the use of heavy fuel oil by Arctic shipping, as imposed by the International Maritime Organization (IMO).
Heavy fuel oil is already outlawed in Antarctic waters, and in April 2018 the IMO’s Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC72) agreed to move forward with an Arctic ban on heavy fuel oil.
The volume of Arctic summer sea ice has decreased by approximately 50% since the 1970s, while the region’s strongest sea ice has broken up twice this year alone.
According to a statement by Greenland’s government, heavy fuel oil in the Arctic both increases the risk of devastating oil spills and generates higher emissions of black carbon, which can “exacerbate the melting of both sea and glacier ice”.
Simon Bennett overviews the IMO greenhouse gas strategy for a sustainable future in a recent Port Technology technical paper
Kåre Press-Kristensen, Senior Advisor to the Danish Ecological Council – a member of the Clean Arctic Alliance – commented: “We applaud Greenland’s government for speaking up for the much needed protection of the Arctic's nature and communities, by supporting the banning of the world’s most polluting fuel – heavy fuel oil.
“After spending time measuring air pollution from cruise ships burning HFO in Greenland this summer, I’m very relieved that Greenlandic politicians support banning it.”
The statement from Greenland’s government stated: “A very important reason for avoiding HFO in Arctic waters is that marine casualties, which lead to waste of HFO in the marine environment, can have major environmental and economic consequences.
“HFO is very difficult and partly impossible to collect at low sea temperatures. Therefore, in case of major spill of HFO, there is a high risk that the oil will remain in the water for a long time or on the coasts that the oil may endanger.”