By Farah Johnson
LUXURY cruise brands operated by Carnival Corporation & PLC emitted 10 times more air pollution in Europe than all of the continent’s vehicles combined, accorrding to an international study.
Transport & Environment, a sustainable transport group in Europe, claimed that its estimated cruise lines operating under the company released more “disease-causing” gases in Europe than over 260 million European passenger vehicles.
Global Royal Caribbean Cruises was said to be second highest polluter, emitting about four times more sulphur oxide than all of Europe’s cars, according to the group’s in-house analysis. The report, which was published in June 2019, examined 203 cruise ships that set sail around European coasts in 2017.
In total, the study claimed that the cruise ships emitted about 62 kilotonnes of sulphur oxide, 155 kilotonnes of nitrogen oxides and 10 kilotonnes of particulate matter.
Spain, Italy, Norway, Greece and France – some of Europe’s top tourist destinations – were the countries with the highest exposure to sulphur oxide from cruise ships.
Four out of the top five nitrogen oxide exposed European countries were also major tourist destinations in Southern Europe.
In response to Transport & Environment’s findings, Roger Frizzell, Carnival Corporation’s chief communications officer, dismissed the think-tank’s conclusions as “inaccurate, misleading and irrelevant”.
“The report is based on an in-house analysis applying highly questionable methodology with so-called ‘best guess’ estimated data on cruise ship emissions,” he told Insight.
“In fact, the figures arrived at in the report do not reconcile with calculations using actual fuel data and emissions from cruise ships, as well as data independently collected and verified by the ports themselves.
“It also does not take into account that it is well accepted among regulatory groups such as the International Maritime Organization and the US Environmental Protection Agency that we have implemented several advanced technologies that remove the vast majority and sometimes all of the sulphur from exhaust, resulting in extremely clean air emissions.”
Last year, Insight reported that in 2014, the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) approved a road map that would require shipping companies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in 2023.
At the time, the Marshall Islands, the world’s third largest shipping registry, responded by calling for 100-percent decarbonisation by 2035. And yet, despite being considered one of the most vulnerable nations to climate change that the shipping industry exacerbates, The Bahamas put forward a submission to the IMO in 2017 opposing the Marshall Islands’ demands.
Instead, Bahamian officials proposed cuts that would decrease emissions to 50-percent of 2008 levels by 2050.
Just last week Tribune Business reported that a monitor appointed by a South Florida federal court revealed that Carnival Cruise Line committed further environmental infractions in 2019.
In light of this, Bahamian environmental activist Sam Duncombe said the country needs to “get rid of” private cruise ports all together.
“We are basically allowing an industry that is a huge polluter to affect our country,” she told Insight.
“We are not taking into consideration the environmental impact of those emissions. The trade off in terms of the money and the jobs they provide, how does that mitigate the amount of environmental damage they’re doing?”
The reEarth president insisted everyone must realise the environment is a business.
“Think about it like any store,” she said. “If you went in and started smashing the air conditioning, punching holes in the roof (and) destroying entire areas inside the store, you’re going to have a big problem.”
The outspoken activist said the public must consider the impact cruise ship emissions have on climate change.
“When you have so many of these toxins in the atmosphere they essentially mix with the sea water and turn into acid,” she explained.
“One cruise ship pollutes as much as one million cars... so when you consider how many cruise ships there are out there doing the same thing, eventually that all adds up very quickly.”
Mrs Duncombe said she thought the devastation wrought on Abaco and Grand Bahama by Hurricane Dorian would have been a “wake up call” for the country to “do business differently”.
“My recommendations are no more cruise ships... they are the biggest leeches on the planet when you consider how little their impact is to the Bahamian economy.
“It looks really good when you see a bunch of people on Bay Street all piling off the cruise ship, but the reality is that cruise ship passengers account for 75 percent of the visitor arrival (and) only represent 25-percent of the tourism revenue.”
Mrs Duncome insisted if every Caribbean nation worked together to create “one set of regulations” for all cruise ships, the corporations would not be able to blackmail individual islands or threaten to take their business elsewhere.
“That’s one of the things the government should have started doing 50 years ago,” she asserted.
“It’s not right that all of these industries are out there polluting the crap out of our country and externalising all their costs so we have to deal with it at the end of the day.”
Still, when asked to clarify Carnival Corporation’s stance on reducing pollution, Mr Frizzell assured Insight that environmental compliance is a top priority at the organisation.
“To date, we have reduced our carbon footprint rate by 25 percent with plans in place to reduce our rate by 40 percent by 2030,” he said.
“Our own environmental operational standards for our ships typically go beyond and are more stringent-than international maritime regulations or requirements. We self-report any potential violation including near misses, equipment failures or violations of internal company policy.”