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Repository of Friends of the Earth submissions on the IMO’s Polar Code

Posted Mar. 7, 2013 / Posted by: John Kaltenstein

With Arctic sea ice melting dramatically due to global warming and natural resource development and trade on the upswing, the region is confronting substantial growth in commercial shipping within its waters. Increased Arctic shipping raises threats not only to human health and welfare, but also to the Arctic’s pristine environment.  Sewage dumping, oily bilge water discharges, oil and fuel spills, invasive species, toxic air pollutants, and climate-forcing emissions of black carbon are just some of the harms associated with increased ship traffic.

In light of these profound changes and emerging threats, Friends of the Earth has been engaged since early 2010 in deliberations surrounding the development of mandatory rules for Arctic and Antarctic shipping known as the Polar Code.  Friends of the Earth participates in the proceedings at the International Maritime Organization in London, UK -- a specialized UN agency that sets global shipping standards -- through an observer seat held by Friends of the Earth International. At the IMO, we are an outspoken advocate for strong polar shipping regulations, focusing primarily on the Arctic region. (Our partner, the Antarctic and Southern Ocean Coalition, provides expertise on issues concerning the Antarctic.) During IMO meetings, Friends of the Earth makes oral statements, gives sidebar presentations, and, generally, works to build support for our environmental positions among IMO member nations, intergovernmental organizations (e.g. European Commission), and industry NGOs.

An important part of these efforts includes submitting documents to the IMO that make the case for why we need particular environmental provisions in the Polar Code.  Friends of the Earth, in collaboration with other environmental NGO partners, has produced and submitted over 20 documents to the IMO on environmental topics relevant to the Polar Code. Friends of the Earth's submitted documents can be found below, arranged according to the IMO committee or subcommittee in which they were presented. 

IMO Marine Environment Protection Committee 62 (July 11-15, 2011): Black Carbon and Whales

IMO Safety of Navigation Sub-Committee 57 (June 6-10, 2011): Whales 1 and Whales 2

IMO Design and Equipment Sub-Committee 57 (March 18-22, 2013) : Heavy Fuel Oil, Garbage & Invasive Species, Wastewater, Black Carbon, and Oil Pollution

IMO Design and Equipment Sub-Committee 56 (February 13-17, 2012): Various Provisions, Heavy Fuel Oil 1, Heavy Fuel Oil 2, and Incineration

IMO Design and Equipment Sub-Committee 55 (March 21-25, 2011): Boundaries 1, Boundaries 2, Black Carbon, Monitoring, Whales, Packages & Containers, Wastewater, and Definition of Pollutant

IMO Design and Equipment Sub-Committee 54 (October 25-29, 2010): MARPOL and Non-MARPOL

IMO Design and Equipment Sub-Committee 53 (February 22-26, 2010): Overview

Photo: Spotted seal on icefloe

Source: Dave Withrow, NOAA

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