CAA welcomes high sulphur shipping fuel ban

High sulphur shipping fuel ban welcomed by CAA © NASA/Kathryn Hansen
Clean Arctic Alliance has welcomed the IMO's ban on high sulphur shipping fuel © NASA/Kathryn Hansen

The Clean Arctic Alliance (CAA) has welcomed the International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) moves towards a ban on vessels carrying high sulphur shipping fuel.

The ban comes ahead of a restriction on the use of high sulphur shipping fuel which will come into force in 2020, and seeks to close a loophole in enforcement of the new regulation. It will apply to all types of fuel with more than 0.5% sulphur content, and aims to reduce atmospheric emissions of sulphur oxide in the maritime sector.

The CAA has welcomed the ban as a positive step towards protecting the Arctic from what it calls “the world’s dirtiest fuel”. However, it has cautioned that the measure will not cut emissions completely, and urged the IMO to take further action.

CAA has called for IMO to discuss the matter at its Marine Environment Protection Committee meeting, which will take place in April. The 2020 ban on high sulphur shipping fuel was discussed at a meeting of the IMO’s Sub-Committee on Pollution Prevention and Response last week.

What did the Clean Arctic Alliance say?

Dr Sian Prior, lead advisor to the Clean Arctic Alliance, said she is optimistic about the potential outcomes of the ban: “The 2020 sulphur ban should drive a switch away from the use of heavy fuel oil towards lighter alternatives – and result in less black carbon released in the Arctic environment”.

Prior also argued that better incentives were needed to encourage ship operators to switch to low sulphur fuel, rather than relying on scrubbers to remove sulphur oxide from exhaust gas.

She highlighted some of the potential concerns associated with scrubbers: “[S]witching to low sulphur fuel tackles the problem of air emissions at source, [while] scrubbers are an end-of-pipe technology, which produces a residue (sludge and wash-water) from the cleaning process that needs to be disposed of. There is concern that scrubber residue and wash-water could end up being dumped in the ocean.”

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