Tromsø, Norway - An ambitious campaign for a ban on heavy fuel oil (HFO) from Arctic shipping has successfully harnessed the power and influence of 65 companies, organisations, politicians and explorers, since its launch in Tromsø twelve months ago.

Revealed at the Arctic Frontiers conference in January 2017 by the Clean Arctic Alliance - a coalition of non-governmental organisations - and expedition cruise ship operator Hurtigruten, 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 fuel by Arctic shipping.

Arctic Commitment launch
Arctic Commitment launch

“Banning the use and carriage of HFO in Arctic waters is the simplest and most effective mechanism for mitigating the consequences of a spill and reducing harmful emissions. An HFO ban has already been in place in Antarctic waters since 2011”, said Dr Sian Prior, advisor to the Clean Arctic Alliance. “Thanks to the strong stance taken by Arctic Commitment signatories, we are seeing a growing understanding of the HFO problem, along with increased momentum to end its use by Arctic shipping”.

“The Clean Arctic Alliance also welcomes the action being taken by IMO member states to start work to identify measures to mitigate the risks of HFO spills, during last July’s Marine Environment Protection Committee meeting (MEPC71)”, continued Prior. “We also note the positive moves by the European Parliament in 2017, which passed a resolution explicitly calling for a HFO ban, followed by direct references to the risks associated with the use of HFO in the Arctic during a January 2018 vote on sustainable development goals”.

“In Hurtigruten, we have made some fundamental decisions on how we operate. We stopped using heavy fuel oil on any of our ships in any waters years ago. Having operated in Arctic waters for 125 years, this was an easy decision. It does not make sense to bring more pollution and more risk to a region that needs less”, said Daniel Skjeldam, CEO of expedition cruise operator Hurtigruten.

In a statement, IKEA Supply AG, the logistics arm of the world’s largest furniture manufacturer, which signed the Arctic Commitment in October 2017, said “by signing the Arctic Commitment, IKEA Supply AG wants to support efforts to protect the fragile Arctic environment and to demonstrate that doing good business can be achieved by being a good business”.

Video: Say no to HFO: Support for a Sustainable Arctic Future