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THE BAN OF HEAVY FUEL OIL IN THE ARCTIC WILL GO INTO EFFECT NINE YEARS FROM NOW

20 november 2020
On November 20, the Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) approved a ban on the use of heavy fuel oil (HFO) for shipping in the Arctic zone during an online meeting of the International Maritime Organization (IMO). The adopted document allows for a wide range of exceptions allowing the use of HFO in the Arctic, and will only come into full effect in nine years

The ban will formally come into force in 2024, but certain types of ships will be able to use HFO until 2029—mostly ships with a double hull. In addition, countries that have an Arctic coast (including Russia) will be able to issue special permits for individual vessels until 2029. The IMO will impose additional requirements to the issue of such permits.

"The HFO ban adopted by the MEPC for the Arctic waters is so ineffectual that it will force us to look for other ways to protect the Arctic," says Alexey Knizhnikov, the head of the business environmental responsibility program at WWF-Russia. 

In the coming decades, we expect a significant increase in marine traffic. The massive diesel fuel spill on Taymyr this year has shown us exactly how much the use of petroleum fuels in the Arctic is going to cost us.

Environmental NGOs in Russia will consider a campaign to force the shipping industry not to use exemptions and exclusions after 2024 on a voluntary basis. And there is a potent argument to be made for that decision now. In October of 2020, a new national strategy for the Arctic was adopted. One of the priorities of the new strategy is the transition from oil fuels to more environmentally friendly alternatives in the Russian Arctic."

For additional information please contact
Head of the responsible industry programme