Arctic Shipping Commitment Drives Momentum Towards Heavy Fuel Oil Ban

Let's get Heavy Fuel Oil out of the Arctic

Tromsø, Norway, 25 January 2018:-  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.

“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”.


About Heavy Fuel Oil

Heavy fuel oil is a dirty and polluting fossil fuel that powers ships throughout our seas and oceans. Around 75% of marine fuel currently carried in the Arctic is HFO; over half by vessels flagged to non-Arctic states – countries that have little if any connection to the Arctic.

But as sea ice melts and opens up Arctic waters further, even larger non-Arctic state flagged vessels fuelled by HFO are likely to divert to Arctic waters in search of shorter journey times. Combined with an increase in Arctic state flagged vessels targeting previously non-accessible resources, this will greatly increase the risks of HFO spills.

Already banned in Antarctic waters, if HFO is spilled in the colder waters of the Arctic, it breaks down slowly, with long-term devastating effects on both livelihoods and ecosystems. HFO is also a higher 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 liquid 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 (see infographics: Responding to Arctic Shipping Oil Spills: Risks and Challenges) and How Can We Reduce Black Carbon Emissions From International Shipping?


The Arctic Commitment

We invite organisations to become part of this historic commitment, which aims to protect Arctic communities and ecosystems from the risks posed by the use of heavy fuel oil as marine fuel.

To read the text the Arctic Commitment text, please visit the Arctic Commitment webpage

To sign up the Arctic Commitment, please contact [email protected]


Launch press release: Arctic Commitment Signatories Demand Arctic Shipping Clean Up, Tromsø, January 25, 2017

Download photographs of the Arctic Commitment launch

Video of January 2017 event:

Following the launch of the Arctic Commitment on January 25th, 2017, the Clean Arctic Alliance announced the Our Ocean Arctic Commitment at the Our Ocean conference in Malta, in October 2017. More details.

Signatories, as of 25 January 2018:

The Clean Arctic Alliance:



16 January 2018: Clean Arctic Alliance Response to EU Parliament Ocean Governance Vote

16 March 2017: EU Parliament Arctic Resolution Vote Calls for Heavy Fuel Oil Ban

International Maritime Organization, 7 July 2017: Clean Arctic Alliance Welcomes IMO Action on Arctic Heavy Fuel Oil Risk

In July 2017, following MEPC71, a meeting of the International Maritime Organization’s Marine Environment Protection Committee the Clean Arctic Alliance welcomed the support given by Member States for a proposal to identify measures which will mitigate the risks posed by the use of heavy fuel oil (HFO) in Arctic waters, and called on the IMO to work towards a swift conclusion of the work.

About the Clean Arctic Alliance

The following not-for-profit organisations form the Clean Arctic Alliance, which is committed to achieving the phase out of 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,Transport & Environment and WWF.

More more information visit


Dave Walsh, Communications Advisor, HFO-Free Arctic Campaign, [email protected], +34 692 826 764

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