With the dramatic decline of the Arctic sea ice, there will be more frequent shipping routes through the Arctic and increased access to fisheries increasing localised shipping traffic.

One of the impacts of shipping is the emission of Black Carbon, a by-product of incomplete fuel combustion which absorbs sunlight and heat. The warming efficacy of black carbon in the Arctic is at least double that of CO2 as when deposited on snow and ice the dark colour of deposits absorbs more light, thereby accelerating melting. The highest amounts of black carbon are produced by ships burning heavy fuel oil (HFO).

Recognising this issue, the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) has investigated several black carbon abatement technologies including Water-in-fuel emulsion (WiFE) where water is added continuously to the fuel supply and a homogeneous mixture is achieved by mechanical measures, lowering the production of black carbon.

 A MARPOL regulation currently prohibits the use or carriage of HFOs on ships in the Antarctic The IMO has agreed draft amendments to MARPOL (which go further than the current the Polar Code encouraging ships not to use or carry HFOs in the Arctic) which, if enacted, would also prohibit the use or carriage of HFOs in the Arctic by 2024.

Clyde & Co is running a virtual legal hackathon between 1 July and 4 August 2020 in partnership with The Chancery Lane Project. This post is part of a series of updates posted during the hackathon on business-relevant climate initiatives and innovative solutions to some of the challenges arising from climate change.