Manifesto Calls on Iceland to Take Arctic Council Leadership on Black Carbon Emissions

Arctic Shipping, Environment — By on May 6, 2019 at 8:29 AM

Manifesto Calls on Iceland to Take Arctic Council Leadership on Black Carbon Emissions

Rovaniemi, May 6th 2019:- As this week’s Arctic Council Ministerial Meeting opens in Rovaniemi, Finland, the Clean Arctic Alliance has released a manifesto urging Iceland, which takes over the chairmanship of the Arctic Council, to demonstrate global leadership on the threats facing the Arctic region [1]. 

On May 6th, the Arctic Council is set to discuss progress on reducing black carbon emissions by Arctic member states. The Clean Arctic Alliance is calling on Iceland to lead the urgent reduction of black carbon emissions in the Arctic during its two-year chairmanship, ahead of next week’s MEPC 74 meeting at the International Maritime Organization (IMO) in London, where black carbon emissions from shipping are on the agenda [2].

The threat to the Arctic from black carbon was recognised by the Arctic Council in Iqualit in 2015, in its Framework for Action on Enhanced Black Carbon and Methane Emissions Reductions, which commits the Arctic countries to demonstrate leadership by reducing Black Carbon (and methane) emissions produced beyond the borders of Arctic States [3].

When emitted in the Arctic, black carbon particles fall on snow, on glacier ice and sea ice, reducing reflectivity and increasing the absorption of heat. As multi-season sea ice recedes due to climate change, Arctic waters will open up to increased shipping – which could lead to increased black carbon emissions, fueling an already accelerating feedback loop.

“With reports that President Trump attempted to wipe out any mention of climate change in this week’s Arctic Council declaration, Iceland’s two-year chairmanship of the Arctic Council could not come at a more important time, with the warming climate the defining issue of our era”, said Árni Finnsson, Chairman of the Iceland Nature Conservation Association [4].

“Iceland must use its leadership position to drive rapid action. Reducing the impacts of black carbon emissions by banning the use and transport of heavy fuel oil by ships operating in the Arctic is an effective way to start to alleviate the pressure on the region’s environment”.

At a meeting of the IMO’s Maritime Environment Protection Committee in April 2018 (MEPC72), the Arctic states of Finland, Iceland, Sweden, Norway and the United States, along with Germany, the Netherlands and New Zealand,proposed a ban on the useand carriage as fuel of HFO by ships operating in the Arctic as the simplest approach to reducing the risks associated with HFO. This ban has gained support from other member states (but not yet Russia or Canada), and is currently under development.

The Alliance urges Iceland to encourage its fellow Arctic states – in particular, Russia and Canada, to back a ban on the use and carriage of heavy fuel – a major source of black carbon – from ships operating in Arctic waters.

“Arctic Council Members must act on their commitment to show global leadership on emissions of black carbon, including through the burning of heavy fuel oil, which has a direct impact on the Arctic climate”, said Dr Sian Prior, Lead Advisor to the Clean Arctic Alliance, a coalition of 18 organisations campaigning for a ban on the use and carriage of heavy fuel oil by Arctic shipping.

“The Arctic Council must foster an Arctic shipping zero-emission vision which involves speedy action to ban on the use of heavy fuel oil and eliminate shipping black carbon emissions.”

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Clean Arctic Alliance Manifesto for the Icelandic Chairmanship of Arctic Council

May 2019

During its two-year Chairmanship of the Arctic Council, Iceland will focus on sustainable development in the Arctic, with a special emphasis on the Arctic marine environment, climate and green energy solutions, people in the Arctic, and strengthening the Arctic Council. These comprehensive themes provide Iceland with the opportunity to demonstrate global leadership with respect to a region of the world that is in serious trouble.

Iceland’s priorities during its leadership of the Arctic Council will be critical to the future health of the Arctic Ocean. The time to act is now, and the Clean Arctic Alliance urges Iceland to:

Protect the ARCTIC MARINE ENVIRONMENT by:

  • Encouraging Arctic nations to reach a coordinated position at the International Maritime Organization (IMO) with respect to a ban on the use and carriage of heavy fuel oil (HFO) as fuel by ships operating in Arctic waters, which would reduce black carbon emissions from ships using HFO by around one-third and remove the risk of a HFO oil spill;
  • Increasing research and developing and adopting approaches and measures to mitigate the impacts of Arctic ocean acidification;
  • Continuing and strengthening the Arctic Council’s work on marine litter and marine plastic pollution to unify the Arctic States on their approach to mitigating and preventing this environmental threat.

Promote CLIMATE AND GREEN ENERGY SOLUTIONS by:

  • Determining whether Arctic nations are fulfilling their commitments to reduce black carbon emissions by 25 – 33%, based on 2013 levels, by 2025 [5] and identify what proportion of these reductions are due to the Arctic shipping sector;
    • Seeking a coordinated position at the IMO recommending the adoption of measures to reduce black carbon emissions from Arctic shipping;
  • Promoting and supporting short-term measures to reduce GHG emissions from Arctic shipping, and in particular measures that reduce ship speed;
  • Supporting the development of a zero-emission vision for Arctic shipping [4].

Support PEOPLE IN THE ARCTIC by:

  • Helping Arctic Indigenous communities protect their livelihoods and resources through a ban on the use and carriage of HFO by ships operating in Arctic waters; and
  • Promoting efforts to ensure that transition funds will be available to support Arctic Indigenous communities when a ban on the use and carriage of HFO by ships in Arctic waters is implemented.

Develop a STRONGER ARCTIC COUNCIL by:

  • Recognizing and agreeing on actions to address the lack of trained emergency responders as well as search, rescue and response equipment capacity in the event of an Arctic oil spill; and
  • Supporting and strengthening cooperation among Arctic nations to collaboratively respond to shipping accidents (e.g. Viking Sky) as well as oil and chemical spills.

Download pdf of Clean Arctic Alliance manifesto 

Notes:

[1] Arctic Council Ministerial Meeting, May 6-7th, 2019 https://arctic-council.org/index.php/en/our-work2/8-news-and-events/512-rovaniemi-ministerial-11

[2] The Clean Arctic Alliance is calling on International Maritime Organization Member States to prioritise the reduction of black carbon emissions from Arctic shipping, as the UN body gathers in London from May 13-17 for a meeting of its Marine Environmental Protection Committee (MEPC74), during which a number of issues, including black carbon emissions and heavy fuel oil (HFO) in the Arctic will feature on the agenda.  http://www.imo.org/en/MediaCentre/MeetingSummaries/Pages/Default.aspx

Black carbon (BC), a harmful air pollutant, is the product of incomplete combustion of organic fuels, and contributes from 7-21% of shipping’s climate warming impact. The largest sources of BC are fossil fuel, biomass and biofuel combustion. Ships emit more BC per unit of fuel consumed than other combustion sources due to the quality of the fuel used. BC has human health impacts and is a potent climate forcer. When emitted in the Arctic, black carbon particles fall on snow, on glacier ice and sea ice, reducing their reflectivity (albedo) and increasing the absorption of heat. As multi-season sea ice recedes due to climate change, Arctic waters will open up to increased shipping – which could lead to increased black carbon emissions, fueling an already accelerating feedback loop.

Recognising the threat to the Arctic from black carbon the Arctic Council’s Framework for Action on Enhanced Black Carbon and Methane Emissions Reductions (agreed in Iqaluit in 2015), commits the Arctic countries to demonstrate leadership by reducing Black Carbon (and methane) emissions produced beyond the borders of Arctic States. The Framework for Action includes a commitment to actively work with and within relevant forums and agreements, which includes the IMO’s Marine Environment Protection Committee, to promote actions and decisions that lead to enhanced black carbon and methane emissions reductions.

Heavy fuel oil is a greater source of harmful emissions of air pollutants, such as sulphur oxide, and particulate matter, including black carbon, than alternative fuels such as distillate fuel and liquefied natural gas (LNG). When emitted and deposited on Arctic snow or ice, the climate warming effect of black carbon is up to five times more than when emitted at lower latitudes, such as in the tropics.

[3] Arctic Council Black Carbon and Methane Expert Group https://oaarchive.arctic-council.org/handle/11374/1167

[4] Trump administration pushed to strip mention of climate change from Arctic policy statement – Washington Post, May 2, 2019 https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-administration-pushed-to-strip-mention-of-climate-change-from-arctic-policy-statement/2019/05/02/1dabcd5e-6c4a-11e9-8f44-e8d8bb1df986_story.htm

[5] Arctic Council Expert Group on Black Carbon and Methane Summary of Progress and Recommendations, 2017 https://oaarchive.arctic-council.org/handle/11374/1936

[6] ITF-OECD Decarbonising Maritime Transport Pathways to zero-carbon shipping by 2035 highlight alternative fuels and renewable energy as being able to deliver much of the required reductions including advanced biofuels, methanol, ammonia, hydrogen, wind assistance and electricity.https://www.itf-oecd.org/sites/default/files/docs/decarbonising-maritime-transport.pdf

About the Clean Arctic Alliance

The following not-for-profit organisations form the Clean Arctic Alliance, which is committed to a ban on HFO as marine fuel in the Arctic:

Alaska Wilderness League, Bellona, Clean Air Task Force, Danish Ecological Council, Ecology and Development Foundation ECODES, Environmental Investigation Agency, European Climate Foundation, Friends of the Earth US, Greenpeace, Icelandic Nature Conservation Association, Nature And Biodiversity Conservation Union, Ocean Conservancy, Pacific Environment, Seas At Risk, Surfrider Foundation Europe, Stand.Earth, Transport & Environment and WWF.

More more information visit https://www.hfofreearctic.org/

Twitter:https://twitter.com/CleanArctic

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