Iceland Moves to Limit Sulfur Emissions in Local Waters
Iceland has amended regulations to lower the permissible sulfur content of marine fuels used in its territorial sea and internal waters from 3.5 to 0.1 percent on January 1, 2020.
Further out to sea and outside of territorial waters, the sulfur content cannot exceed 0.5 percent as part of the global sulfur cap also effective from January 1.
The government said that the sulfur content of heavy fuel oil marketed in Iceland in 2017 ranged from 0.64 –1.94 percent, but the global average according to data from the IMO was 2.59 percent.
The Iceland Nature and Conservation Association and the Clean Arctic Alliance have welcomed the new regulation but are disappointed that it allows for the use of scrubbers, saying it fails to address black carbon emissions. They are concerned about the release of scrubber water from open-loop equipment and are concerned that if a scrubber malfunctions in cold temperatures or due to ice, ships will continue to burn heavy fuel oil and emit high levels of sulfur.
The groups have urged the Government of Iceland to ban all vessels which burn or carry heavy fuel oil from entering Icelandic waters. Switching to lighter distillate fuels, they say, eliminates the threat from sulfur emissions, reduces black carbon emissions and removes the risk of a heavy fuel oil spill.
Residual fuels such as heavy fuel oil accounts for an estimated 83 percent of black carbon from ships, while ships powered with two-stroke slow speed diesel main engines were responsible for two-thirds of global black carbon emissions, state the groups.
They note that, recognizing the threat to the Arctic from black carbon, the Arctic Council’s Framework for Action on Enhanced Black Carbon and Methane Emissions Reductions (agreed in Iqaluit in 2015), commits the Arctic countries to demonstrate leadership by reducing black carbon (and methane) emissions produced beyond the borders of Arctic States. The Framework for Action includes a commitment to actively work with and within relevant forums and agreements, which includes the IMO’s Marine Environment Protection Committee, to promote actions and decisions that lead to enhanced black carbon and methane emissions reductions.