(CMR) The Global Cruise Activist Network (GCAN) has called on UN delegates to take immediate steps to ensure that cruise ships in service anywhere in the world comply with standards that will achieve net-zero emissions of greenhouse gases by the cruise industry by 2050.
Legal analysis shows international shipping emissions are included in the Paris Agreement and must be included in Parties’ Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) to meet economy-wide absolute emission reduction targets to limit global warming to 2oC.
GCAN recommends that, at a minimum, standards for the cruise industry should require emissions reductions of 40% by 2030 and incremental reductions of 5% year-on-year after that. Imposing such standards would be consistent with the goals of the Paris Agreement and with the right of every country to control access to its ports.
“The shipping industry is seriously lagging in efforts to decarbonize. Cruise ships, in particular, are super-emitters of greenhouse gases. The cruise industry’s carbon footprint will only increase if it is allowed to continue operating as it has in the past. It’s time to abandon ‘cruising as usual’,” said Tom Siebens, a GCAN activist in New England, U.S.A.
“Cruise ships continue to exploit man-made wonders like Venice and natural wonders like the Great Barrier Reef while contributing to the climate change that destroys these treasures. Switching from burning the dirtiest of bunker fuels to natural gas (LNG) only serves to accelerate climate change. The cruise industry must make drastic reforms to decarbonize if they are to continue,” said Dr. Steve Gration, a GCAN activist on Australia’s Gold Coast.
Two Estonian owned cruise ships hired for accommodation during COP 26, the MS Romantika and the MS Silja Europa (the latter also rented for 10 days as a floating hotel in Falmouth, Cornwall for the G7 summit in June), will run on fossil fuels despite being equipped to use onshore power.
Comparing cruise idling to truck idling using US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) formulas, the hotelling emissions from these two ships combined is the equivalent of 700 idling semi-trucks burning shipping fuel non-stop. Due to the higher content of sulfur in shipping fuel, the amount of sulfur dioxide is the same as 46,200 trucks idling non-stop in Glasgow, the most populous city in Scotland.
“The accommodation solution in Glasgow to use floating hotels is deeply disappointing and flies in the face of the purpose of the event to limit global pollution. Multiple reports and evidence are available which clearly state the risks to human health and the environment, including the peer-reviewed scientific paper published in September this year, “Environmental and human health impacts of cruise tourism: A Review” by Lloret et al., and the 2019 report published by the European Federation for Transport and Environment “One corporation to pollute them all”. The organizers of the G7 and COP 26 events ought to be very embarrassed by renting these super-polluters and disease incubators.” said Linda Clark, a GCAN activist in the Cayman Islands.
GCAN believes ship emissions will continue to grow as the worldwide shipping industry produces over 3% of the planet’s greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide, as much greenhouse gas as all of America’s coal plants combined. As a result, GCAN wants the shipping industry targets for decarbonization to be tougher.
Cruise ships, in particular, are super-emitters of greenhouse gases and black carbon, GCAN said. Most cruise ships burn the cheapest and most carbon-intensive fuels. These ships are more carbon-intensive than cargo ships of similar size because they burn fuel constantly, even when in port, to power infrastructure for, typically, 3,000 up to as many as 10,000 passengers and crew.
GCAN wants the cruise industry’s recovery post-Covid to be truly carbon responsible, not “business as usual”. Yet, the industry can take effective measures now to reduce its carbon footprint.
GCAN calls on the UN COP 26 summit to promote faster action toward ship emissions accounting, economic incentives to decarbonize the industry, and the development of clean power practices, shore power, and alternative fuels. In addition to net-zero emissions standards, multiple initiatives already underway or in development would, in combination, have a significant impact on reducing the greenhouse gas burden that shipping imposes on our world. They need to be pursued with far greater urgency.
GCAN stressed that cruise ships are a luxury that causes serious climate damage. The organization wants the industry and its regulators to give priority to decarbonizing ships and promoting the long-term health of the atmosphere, the marine environment, and port communities. It’s time to abandon “cruising as usual”.