Arctic shipping report advocates immediate cleanup of vessel fuel to combat emissions
WASHINGTON, D.C. — A new report by the International Council on Clean Transportation finds that emissions from Arctic shipping traffic could rise 150-600 percent by 2025. As global warming intensifies and Arctic sea ice melts, marine vessel traffic is expected to increase and amplify the levels of harmful pollution emitted into the atmosphere. These pollutants include carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxides, sulfur oxides, and particulate matter, including black carbon. The ICCT report outlines a number of options to mitigate harm from shipping emissions in the U.S. Arctic. Such possibilities include vessel speed limits and more stringent fuel requirements, which would end the use of heavy fuel oil — the bottom-of-the-barrel fuel still used by many ships. Ships would, instead, switch to using higher quality, lower sulfur distillate fuels that would not only reduce adverse impacts in the event of an accident and fuel spill, but also dramatically decrease the amount of deleterious air emissions produced.
John Kaltenstein, marine policy analyst at Friends of the Earth, issued the following response:
Unrestricted and weakly regulated shipping in the Arctic paints a grim outlook for fragile polar environments and for efforts to combat climate-forcing emissions such as black carbon. In just two months, the U.S. will assume the chair of the Arctic Council — the intergovernmental forum for Arctic governments and peoples — and it will have an opportunity to push for stronger protections in the Arctic, including a ban on the use of heavy fuel oil. The Arctic requires protection from noxious emissions and the possibility of more frequent heavy fuel and oil spills. The International Council on Clean Transportation’s findings further validate the need for cleaner fuel use. The U.S. has a responsibility to the Arctic — and to the world — to protect these unique polar ecosystems and the people and wildlife that reside in the region.