Protest against Arctic shipping pollution as delegates arrive for international shipping summit

Press release from Extinction Rebellion

International Maritime Organization (IMO) challenged over Arctic pollution and climate emissions as delegates gather in London for ‘Arctic Summit’.

MEDIA CONTACT: Matt Mellen, +44 7811205510, Matt Mellen,

PHOTOS AND VIDEOS: available for download at LINK

LONDON, UK, 17 February 2020 — Environmental campaigners Extinction Rebellion called for urgent action to cut pollution in the Arctic from the global shipping industry, at the International Maritime Organization’s week long Pollution Prevention & Response sub-committee (PPR7) meeting, which opened this morning at Albert Embankment, London.

As delegates, representing governments from around the world and the shipping industry, arrived for the meeting, they came face to face with activists urging them to act now to protect the fragile arctic marine environment.

Banners read “Dirty ship fuels are climate crimes” and “IMO: Protect the Arctic, Ban dirty fuels”. Performers created an Arctic climate crime scene with white chalk outlines of Arctic animals, attended by black-clad funeral mourners. A smoking cargo ship art installation was trailed by thick black “oil”. A stranded polar bear, its habitat threatened by climate change, perched upon a melting iceberg sculpture, whilst a 10 metre-long banner deployed along the wall of the Thames read “Dirty ship fuels destroy the Arctic”.

Matt Mellen, an activist from Somerset, said:
“It’s crazy that these dirty, dangerous fuels are allowed anywhere. But to use them somewhere as fragile and precious as the Arctic beggars belief. The Arctic is changing faster than anywhere due to climate change – and what happens in the Arctic doesn’t stay in the Arctic. If world governments are serious about protecting this fragile environment, it can bring about a ban during this week’s meeting”

Roc Sandford, from Extinction Rebellion, said:
“Climate Change is already causing fires and floods around the world. This is an emergency, there are no good excuses for not acting now. We’re protesting here to make sure the delegates at this summit see what is at stake. We urge them to act to cut emissions and protect the environment.”

PPR7, which runs from 17-21 February, is being called the “IMO Arctic Summit” due to its focus on the global shipping industry’s impacts on the Arctic region. The meeting agenda includes two items that impact the Arctic: measures to reduce the risks from heavy fuel oil use and proposals to reduce the impacts of black carbon emissions. Official websites here:

To learn more about what’s happening this week at the IMO’s Arctic Summit:

At present shipping burns huge amounts of extremely dirty fuels, such as “bunker oil”. These dirty fuels cause deadly air pollution, threaten fragile ecosystems such as the arctic (where they are impossible to clean up if spilt), and have a serious impact on climate change. PPR7 has the power to introduce new restrictions on burning these incredibly dirty fuels.

Extinction Rebellion is an international movement that uses non-violent civil disobedience in an attempt to halt mass extinction and minimise the risk of social collapse. In May 2019, during the IMO’s Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) meeting, Extinction Rebellion activists protested outside the IMO to demand the organization declare a climate emergency and decrease shipping speeds to reduce emissions.

Date of publication: 17 Feb 2020

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