As new shipping lanes emerge in the Arctic, concerns over the use of Heavy Fuel Oil (HFO) as a fuel source in Arctic waters compound — particularly insofar as HFO emissions cause local black carbon pollution, creating a sooty layer of black covering the surrounding ice and increasing its rate of heat absorption.
This model law would require a ship in the Arctic to use a fuel gradually lowering lifecycle climate emissions, if the ship will enter or depart from a U.S. port within the year, effectively phasing out the use of HFOs in Arctic shipping.
The jurisdictional framework under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) delineates State maritime authorities, including the rules regarding Port State jurisdiction, which address a Port State’s ability to condition entry to its ports. This model law relies on Port State jurisdiction to impose emissions rules on ships that dock in the United States.
Here, distillate fuels serve as a bridge fuel. The model law requires a phased reduction in the lifecycle climate emissions in fuels. The reduction of lifecycle climate emissions is consistent with the urgency set forth in the Paris Agreement and its related decision document, and consistent with the IMO Initial GHG strategy. The phased reduction is modeled in part on the renewable fuel program of the Clean Air Act, modified to circumstances of maritime shipping. The model law’s phased dates would allow technologies to develop. In addition, it seems possible to mix fuels to meet lifecycle reductions. Due to the model law’s credit provisions, the percent lifecycle reduction can vary, as more lifecycle reduction than needed could establish a credit, and vice versa.