Cruise giant emits ten times more sulphur than all cars in Europe
Carnival Corporation, the world’s largest luxury cruise operator, emitted almost ten times as much sulphur oxide along Europ’s coasts as all of Euro’s 260 million cars combined in 2017. Royal Caribbean Cruises, the world’s second largest, emitted four times more than the European car fleet. This is the conclusion of research carried out by Transport and Environment, a sustainable transport organization.
Sulphur oxide (SOX) is harmful to the human respiratory system and contributes to the acidification in terrestrial and aquatic environments.
Barcelona most exposed
Spain, Italy, and Greece are the most exposed to emissions, followed by France and Norway. Pollution is most severe in the ports of Barcelona, Palma de Mallorca and Venice, followed by Civitavecchia (Rome) and Southampton.
These countries and ports are important tourist destinations, but they also have less strict sulphur standards for marine fuel.
Zero emissions for ports
“Cruise ships are huge and use one of the dirtiest fuel”, says Laurien Spruyt of the Belgian Association for a Better Environment (Bond Beter Leefmilieu). According to the organization, Europe must introduce zero emissions in ports as soon as possible.
“Cities are doing more and more to ban polluting cars these days. At the same time, they give cruise companies a free passage, while the enormous amount of toxic fumes of their ships damage the health of the people on board and in the cities where they moor.”
Technology is available
However, technological solutions to make cruise ships cleaner are available. “Pier power can help reduce emissions in ports, batteries are a solution for shorter distances and hydrogen technology can also power the largest cruise ships”, says Spruyt. “Apparently, the cruise industry is not yet willing to make the switch voluntarily. That is why we need governments to take responsibility and impose zero emission standards.”
Zeebrugge in top 50
In Belgium, 86 cruise ships emitted 28 tonnes of sulphur oxide in 2017, compared with almost 70 tonnes of the 5,7 million passenger cars registered. The port of Zeebrugge is the only Belgian port in the top 50 most polluted ports. With more than 7 tons of sulphur oxide, it ranks 27th. By way of comparison, the port of Barcelona handled 32 tons.