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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on October 17th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Today at the Arctic Circle Assembly in Reykjavik we had a session on International Shipping – a Global Challenge and a Challenge to the Arctic. The session was then followed by a break-out session – “Perspectives For Reducing Harmful Emissions From International Shipping in the Arctic and Beyond.”

The sessions were organized by Ing. Christoph Wolff of the European Climate Foundation of the Hague. and The Breakout panel included among others Laura Strickler who advocates the ban on heavy fuel oil in shipping and Bernice Notenboom – a Dutch Canadian that is a Climate Journalist and documentary maker that is now investigating the impact of the shipping industry.

The problem is that the fuel used for shipping is the resid at the refinery -it is the heavy and dirtiest cut in petroleum refining. It has all the metal compounds and when it burns it CREATES ALSO VERY MUCH BLACK CARBON THAT COVERS WITH BLACK THE ARCTIC FORMERLY WHITE ICE. THIS THEN ABSORBS MORE THE SUN AND INCREASES THE RATE OF THE MELTING OF THE ICE.

The International Maritime Organization has managed to turn this subject into a taboo – just don’t talk about it.
These cheap refinery resids obviously are a boon to the shippers and a curse to us all – but are not part of the negotiations on climate change.

Acid rain did focus our attention on the Sulfur content of fuels and scrubbers had to be promised by 2020 – but that is all.
Ports like Rotterdam are starting to legislate on pollution from ships – but the subject is still in its infancy – but did not even reach the UN. The obvious problems being the the particulates or carbon black, the sulfur compounds, the nitrogen oxides
and the obvious CO2.

We learned that the 17 largest ships cause more carbon black cover of the Arctic ice then all the world’s cars. How come that for years we are focused on the automotive industry but never looked into the deeds of the shipping industry? How come?

Further on, from these presentations and from the presentations of Russia relating to the Northern Sea Route, we also learned that the largest numbers of ships are registered under flags of convenience that happen to be members of the SIDS and AOSIS – or those small Island States that stand to lose most from global warming/climate change. Now that is something one must also look into. How come?

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