Green groups push for IMO to ban low sulphur marine fuel in Arctic
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[January 28, 2020]
LONDON (Reuters) - Green groups on
Monday called for a ban on the use of new low sulphur fuel in the Arctic
region, citing research showing that blends of the marine fuel
contributed to highly polluting black carbon emissions in the
Since the start of this year, United Nations shipping agency the
International Maritime Organization (IMO) has banned ships from using
fuels with a sulphur content above 0.5%, compared with 3.5% previously,
in the biggest shake up for the oil and shipping industries in decades.
The regulations, known as IMO 2020, are aimed at improving human health
by reducing air pollution.
Only ships fitted with sulphur-cleaning devices known as scrubbers will
be allowed to continue burning high-sulphur fuel. Ship owners can also
opt for cleaner fuels such as liquefied natural gas (LNG).
Germany and Finland submitted a paper on the Artic to the IMO last year
showing that new blends of marine fuels with 0.5% sulphur content can
contain a large percentage of aromatic compounds, which have a direct
impact on black carbon emissions.
It is the first time that a link between blends of low sulphur fuel and
black carbon -- the product of incomplete combustion of carbon-based
fuels and a contributer to climate change -- has been raised in the
context of the IMO.
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Sian Prior, lead advisor with the Clean Arctic Alliance, a coalition
of non-governmental organisations working for a ban on heavy fuel
oil from Arctic shipping, said if the IMO did not take immediate
action on the use of very low sulphur fuel oil it "would lead to a
massive increase in black carbon emissions, and this will both
accelerate the melting of Arctic sea ice and have a major impact on
The Alliance called for an immediate switch to distillate fuels for
ships in the Arctic and sought clarification on how low sulphur fuel
blends were developed for IMO 2020.
An IMO spokesperson said the next session of its sub-committee on
pollution prevention and response in February would discuss the
submissions, including the impact on the Arctic of black carbon
The IMO has been looking at how to measure and report on black
(Reporting by Jonathan Saul; Editing by Kirsten Donovan)
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