Green groups push for IMO to ban low sulphur marine fuel in Arctic

(Reuters News, 27 Jan 2020) Campaigners say that moves to force companies to use cleaner fuel could actually increase climate damage.

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 environment.

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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Reuters News, 27 Jan 2020: Green groups push for IMO to ban low sulphur marine fuel in Arctic