Canada and Finland disagree over arctic fuel ban

IMO will discuss use of HFO in the Arctic at its April MEPC meeting IMO will discuss use of HFO in the Arctic at its April MEPC meeting

As the IMO prepares to consider a Canadian proposal to mitigate the risks of heavy fuel oil pollution in the Arctic, Ottawa is trying to water down a plan by Finland for an outright ban of HFO (heavy fuel oils) the highly polluting fuel used by most ships.

The International Maritime Organization (IMO), the United Nations’ specialized agency that regulates maritime shipping, will discuss the issue of HFO used in the Arctic at the upcoming 72nd session of its Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) that will take place in London in early April.

The use of HFOs is already banned in the Antarctic and several environmental and Indigenous groups are calling for a similar ban in the Arctic.

“A ban is the simplest and most effective mechanism for mitigating the consequences of a spill and reducing harmful emissions,” said in a statement Sian Prior, lead advisor to the Clean Arctic Alliance, a coalition of international NGOs campaigning for a mandatory HFO ban.

Documents obtained by Radio Canada International show that as part of the discussion of the Canadian proposal, which was adopted at MEPC’s 71 session in London last July, Finland has submitted a plan to the MEPC to ban the use and carriage of HFOs by ships in Arctic waters by 2021.

Finland’s proposed ban, which would be mandatory for all ships to which the International Convention for Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL) applies, while operating in Arctic waters, is co-sponsored by Germany, Iceland, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden and United States.

By Jake Frith

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