On Monday 22nd March, Environmental campaign group Ocean Rebellion targeting the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), the corrupt and dirty shipping industry and cargo owners, projected slogans and messages onto fuel silos calling for the industry to move away from dirty fuels.
The Ocean Rebels’ latest protest took place on day one of the 8th Session of the IMO’s Pollution Prevention and Response Sub-Committee (PPR), in Falmouth Cornwall, where Ocean Rebellion launched in August 2020 by taking action against The World cruise ship.
Throughout the evening, protestors projected slogans such as ‘SWITCH TO DISTILLATE NOW’ and ‘DIRTY FUELS, BLATANT LIES, CLIMATE DISASTERS’ onto the fuel silos, demanding that the IMO, shipowners, and cargo owners take immediate and effective action to stop the use of all dirty heavy fuel oils. These fuels are an important source of deadly black carbon in the Arctic, and have been linked to shipping disasters caused by engine failure such as Wakashio in Mauritius and to toxic fuel leaks from storage depots.
Sophie Miller from Ocean Rebellion said "The continued release of black carbon from dirty fuels is wrecking our ecosystem. Arctic sea ice, glaciers, permafrost and the Greenland ice sheet are all shrinking rapidly due to global heating from the albedo effect, directly caused by black carbon pollution from dirty HFO and VLSFO. This is leads to lethal environmental consequences like sea-level rises and extreme weather patterns, mostly felt by vulnerable people in the global south and unfolding against the background of the Arctic climate crisis."
Heavy fuel oils and Black Carbon will be on the agenda at PPR 8, where IMO Member States have the chance to take rapid and effective action to cut the emissions of black carbon in the Arctic. IMO Member States must agree on regulations to ensure the shipping industry operating in or near the Arctic switches to distillate fuels, such as diesel or marine gas oil, and mandate that vessels use particulate filters, or move to other cleaner energy sources or means of propulsion. Work to develop a global black carbon emission standard for shipping must be timetabled immediately.
Sophie added “While we transition to zero-carbon fuels and other propulsion methods we need to stop deaths from air pollution, reduce black carbon emissions and push up the cost of conventional fuels by enforcing the polluter pays principle. Ocean Rebellion believes that the IMO needs to legislate to remove all fuel subsidies for polluting fuels, and to ensure fuel manufacturers TELL THE TRUTH and provide an honest list of their ingredients for any fuel produced. Currently the shipping industry and cargo owners have dangerously chosen to put cost ahead of climate and environment. This has been possible in part because there is no formal legal regulation of fuel quality, and because of the industry-sponsored ISO standards.”
Rob Higgs also from Ocean Rebellion adds “In addition to our work on shipping’s climate transition we are fighting a last ditch effort to save as much of the Arctic sea ice as possible—we are literally fighting for our lives, given the feedback effects inherent of the Arctic icecap losing its ability to reflect heat back into space—and this means banning black carbon from the increasing number of ships using Arctic routes. So we are pushing a switch to distillates for the Arctic and near Arctic waters as an immediate short-term measure. Ocean Rebellion believes that distillate is not a long-term solution as it is only “cleaner” compared to the heavy fuel oils normally used in ships and the IMO must put measures in place to enable a transition to fossil fuel free shipping NOW.”