Positive steps on dirty Arctic fuel at world shipping meeting, but climate discussion lacks urgency
“Commitments from Arctic states and others at this week’s meeting have set the table for transitioning away from heavy fuel oils (HFO). The decision to maintain a 2020 decision on lowering the sulphur content of fuel to 0.5% globally is one sign that shipping nations are moving away from the dirtiest fuels. It’s now time for concrete action from the IMO/member states and the development of a work plan to phase out HFO in the Arctic.” said WWF Arctic shipping spokesperson Andrew Dumbrille. In an unusual intervention, the IMO Secretary General echoed comments from Canada, US, France, Sweden, Iceland, the Netherlands, Finland and Norway in calling for serious effort by member states of the IMO in dealing with the risks and impacts from the use of HFO. WWF and NGO members of the Clean Arctic Alliance at the meeting were pressing for a phase out of use of HFO as a shipping fuel in the Arctic due to the risks associated with HFO spills.
On climate, the signs were less positive, as countries only managed to agree to kick off a process on strategy development which is not likely to have measures/targets emerging from it until at least 2023.
“The prospect of a delay until after 2023 for implementation of new measures means the global shipping sector is lagging behind other sectors in taking responsibility for its greenhouse gas emissions,” said WWF shipping spokesperson Simon Walmsley. “The IMO and its member states should speed up this process and put forward its goal on emissions reduction to the major UN climate talks in 2018. The sector needs to quickly get on with implementing measures to meet this goal, no later than 2020, in line with the aviation sector and the Paris Agreement.”