Government should consider refunds, tax credits or subsidies to offset higher shipping fuel costs, Inuit organizations say

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The federal government should be ready to offer tax credits, subsidies, a refund scheme or other measures to ensure Nunavummiut don’t pay higher prices if a heavy fuel oil ban takes effect in Arctic waters, two Inuit organizations are recommending.

“By working together, we will find a way forward to support the shipping industry, protect the environment and foster responsible community development,” says Lisa Koperqualuk, ICC’s vice-president international. photo courtesy of Inuit Circumpolar Council

Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. (NTI) and Inuit Circumpolar Council Canada (ICC) are both firmly in support of a prohibition on heavy fuel oils in Canada’s North. Because such a ban is expected to drive up costs of sealift, household goods and electricity, they are urging Ottawa to devise ways to offset costs to shippers to switch to more expensive but less environmentally-damaging fuels.

“The main concerns relating to the use of heavy fuel oil by container ship are persistent
contamination to the people and communities in the event of an oil spill, as there are currently no effective way to deal with an HFO (heavy fuel oil) spill in the Arctic, and the effects of black carbon emissions,” a joint news release issued Tuesday reads. “Inuit communities depend on markets to the south for many of our goods, yet it is equally true that Inuit communities continue to rely on the abundance provided by our lands and waters. In this context, the need for safe and economically sound shipping and transportation routes to move people and goods to and from our homeland is undeniable. We need to develop in a responsible manner.”

The federal government is proposing a phased-in approach to a ban with heavy fuel oil being outlawed in the Arctic no earlier than 2024, stated Sau Sau Liu, communications adviser with Transport Canada on Tuesday.

“As Canada recognizes that there are both benefits and impacts of a ban, we are committed to discussions with northern governments, communities and industry on ways to help balance the environmental benefits with the economic realities of northern, Indigenous and Inuit communities,” Liu said.

Arctic shipping has increased by 63 per cent since 2006, ICC and NTI noted. NTI and other Inuit organizations have moved to increase monitoring of marine traffic.

“These are difficult waters to navigate, on one hand we need protection for our Arctic waters and animals, and on the other hand we are told this protection will result in inflated prices of the already expensive goods we depend on,” stated Lisa Koperqualuk, ICC’s vice-president international. “By working together, we will find a way forward to support the shipping industry, protect the environment and foster responsible community development.”

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