UN shipping body approves Arctic heavy fuel oil ‘ban’, delayed for a decade

(Climate Home News, 20 Nov 2020) Ships will be banned from burning or using heavy fuel oil (HFO) in Arctic waters under a newly agreed regulation, but with loopholes giving most polluters a pass until 2029.

Countries approved the proposal during an environmental committee meeting of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) – the UN body responsible for international shipping – on Friday.

The decision came several days after countries attending the IMO meeting agreed to a controversial package of energy efficiency measures. Campaigners say both measures fall far short of both the IMO and Paris Agreement goals to reduce emissions and limit global warming.

Finland, Germany, Iceland, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, and the US proposed the ban to protect the fragile Arctic region from oil spills.

HFO has been banned in Antarctic waters since 2011, but plans for similar restrictions in the Arctic have been met with resistance, mainly from Russia. Opponents inserted a host of exemptions and waivers that weakened the rule.

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Climate Home News, 20 Nov 2020: UN shipping body approves Arctic heavy fuel oil ‘ban’, delayed for a decade