Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) have called upon the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) to impose a ban on the use of highly polluting marine fuel ‘heavy fuel oil’ (HFO) in Arctic waters.

Europe’s Transport & Environment (T&E) noted that the European Parliament also wants the IMO’s environment committee to discuss prohibiting the use of HFO in the Arctic at its upcoming meeting in July.

MEPs passed a resolution in a discussion held last month that urges the European Commission and EU member states to consider prohibiting the use and carriage of HFO for ships using EU ports if international efforts to ban the fuel fail.

HFO is produced from the waste of oil refining processes and is currently being used by the global shipping companies due to its cheap price.  

It produces higher levels of air and climate pollutants compared with other marine fuels, which could pose serious threats to human health. The fuel and its harmful effects are virtually impossible to clean up in case of spillage or other related accidents.

"This vote should be a clear signal for EU member states to put HFO on the agenda for the next meeting of IMO’s environment committee in July."

Transport & Environment shipping policy officer Faig Abbasov said: “We welcome the parliament’s clear call for a ban on the use of heavy fuel oil by ships in the Arctic.

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“This vote should be a clear signal for EU member states to put HFO on the agenda for the next meeting of IMO’s environment committee in July.

“This is an important opportunity to start formal discussions on the risks related to using HFO in the Arctic.”

The organisation has also blamed IMO for not speeding up its actions to protect the Arctic environmental.

Image: A ship Arctic waters. Photo: courtesy of European Federation for Transport and Environment AISBL.