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Call for for switch to Cleaner Shipping Fuel to cut Arctic Black Carbon Emissions

As a meeting of the International Maritime Organization’s Pollution Prevention and Response committee opens today (PPR 10), the Clean Arctic Alliance [1] calls on the IMO to radically reduce the impact of black carbon emissions from shipping on Arctic sea and glacier ice, by putting in place a compulsory requirement for ships across the whole Arctic to use cleaner fuels, by switching to distillate fuels.

This follows an open letter published by the Clean Arctic Alliance to IMO Secretary General Kitack Lim, asking him to personally call on all IMO members to now treat the Arctic climate crisis with the urgency that it demands.

“The reduction in black carbon emissions, which are a potent climate forcer, would be achieved through a mandatory fuel switch from dirty residual fuels to distillate fuels by ships operating across the broader Arctic, given the impact that shipping in and close to the Arctic regions can have on sea and glacier ice”, said Dr Sian Prior, Lead Advisor to the Clean Arctic Alliance, a coalition of 20 international non-profit organisations [2].

“The recent IPCC Synthesis Report makes clear that rapid, deep and sustained action is needed across all sectors [3]. To remain on or below a 1.5oC warming trajectory, ship climate impacts must be halved by 2030, with full decarbonisation close to 2040. This must include immediate cuts in black carbon emissions from ships, especially from those operating in and near to the Arctic”, said Prior.

“It is frustrating that the changes needed to rapidly reduce black carbon emissions from ships were not agreed and implemented when discussions on measures to reduce black carbon commenced over a decade ago,”she added. “Reducing black carbon emissions does not require the development of new fuels, or new technology, it simply requires cleaner fuel choices and the shipping sector catching up with what has been required of land-based power and transport systems for over a decade.”

The Clean Arctic Alliance also calls on IMO Members to bring forward proposals to designate Emission Control Areas (ECAs) in the Arctic and adjacent sea areas such as the north Atlantic where black carbon emitted from ships can reach the Arctic. Other measures that can reduce black carbon emissions in need of urgent action include the development of a strict aromatic fuel standard, as well as putting in place a requirement for installation of diesel particulate filters on ships operating in the Arctic.

“The Arctic, its wildlife and its people, are running out of time”, added Prior. “In 2010, the IMO Member States recognised the need for action to reduce black carbon emissions from ships – thirteen years later, the IMO must finally support mandatory action for measures that can be implemented quickly, such as a switch to cleaner fuels and use of filters, designation of emission control areas and the development of aromatic fuel standard.”

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