Responding to the news that the 30 member companies of AECO, the Association of Arctic Expedition Cruise Operators, have agreed on a mandatory guideline banning the use of heavy fuel oil in the Arctic, Clean Arctic Alliance Lead Advisor Dr Sian Prior said:
“With an International Maritime Organization ban on the use of carriage of heavy fuel oil in the Arctic coming over the horizon, we welcome the decision made by AECO’s 30 expedition cruise companies to get ahead of the crowd, and for forging a path towards powering Arctic shipping with cleaner fuels.”
“That so many shipping and associated companies have recognised the risks associated with HFO, including both oil spill risks and black carbon emissions, by signing up for a ban, sends a strong message to decision-makers in Arctic governments and all International Maritime Organization Member States – who must pay heed. AECO members are demonstrating that not only is it possible to end the use and carriage of HFO in the Arctic, but that the expedition cruise sector is prepared to lead the way. In comparison, the conventional cruise industry still has a long way to go towards getting rid of HFO on board its ships: it should take note, and follow the lead of the expedition cruise industry.”
AECO’s announcement comes ahead of a decision on global action to ban the use and carriage as fuel of HFO by ships operating in the Arctic by the International Maritime Organization (IMO), which is due in February 2020.
“Amid reports this month that some Arctic islands are 8 degrees warmer than normal, and Scientific American reporting that ‘scientists have been underestimating the pace of climate change, it is particularly welcome that the expedition cruise sector is prepared to demonstrate leadership and take action to reduce the amount of black carbon, a short-lived climate-forcer, being emitted in Arctic latitudes.
“While we anticipate that a global ban on the use and carriage of HFO as fuel by ships operating in the Arctic will be in place by 2023, it would be wonderful if other shipping operators followed AECO’s lead. The Clean Arctic Alliance launched the Arctic Commitment – a declaration of intent to not use or carry HFO as fuel in the Arctic – with expedition cruise operator Hurtigruten nearly three years ago, and we would welcome Arctic Commitment signatories from other parts of the shipping industry – the container sector, general cargo sector or even the bulk sector,” continued Prior.
AECO was an early signatory of the Arctic Commitment, which calls for a phase-out of polluting heavy fuel oil (HFO) from Arctic shipping. Launched at the Arctic Frontiers conference in January 2017 by the Clean Arctic Alliance and expedition cruise ship operator Hurtigruten (an AECO member), the Arctic Commitment aims to protect Arctic communities and ecosystems from the risks posed by the use of heavy fuel oil, and calls on the International Maritime Organization (IMO) to ban its use and carriage as marine fuel by Arctic shipping. An HFO ban has already been in place in Antarctic waters, since 201.