Cruise ship companies is picking up speed in their commitments towards sustainability

-Ellinor Forsström

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A Royal Caribbean cruise ship

For a long time, cruise companies have been characterized by limited environmental achievements due to favorable oil prices and fierce competition in the market. Even though the operators have made several sustainability pledges this has remained one of the worst sectors in maritime transport when it comes to environmental impact. The negative behaviors of the cruise industry includes several aspects where poor waste management, high energy demand, oil spills, high emissions and contribution to the degradation of aquatic ecosystems only are a few. However this also indicates that there is a huge opportunity for cruise companies to step up their game and improve their sustainability policies and introduce cleaner technology. This is the opinion of Dietmar Oeliger, head of environmental policy at German environmental NGO Nabu, which he stated in an article in the Guardian. He also emphases that lowering the emissions and pollution from cruise ships is not just an environmental issue, it also is of grave importance to ensure the wellbeing of the passengers.

One of the main reasons for this negative pattern according to the article is the low environmental standards for the shipping industry that also includes cruise ships. However a new IMO legislation is coming by 2020 which puts more pressure on this part of the shipping industry to reduce their emissions. This forces more and more of the cruise companies to use cleaner technologies and consider alternative fuels to be able to comply with the new policies. The article shows many examples on how this positive strive towards sustainability are starting to show within the industry. For example, the use of so called scrubbers becomes more common as a way to reduce the sulfur content in the exhaust gases. This is already a well-established technique and even more ambitious changes are happening today. Especially when it comes to alternative fuels. Several of the leading cruise companies, including Royal Caribbean and Carnival group, has started the transition away from heavy oil towards LNG. RC has even taking it one step further and is planning to introduce fuel-cell-technologies in their vessels. The work towards completely renewable fuels in the cruise ship industry is also moving forward. Two of the companies that has entered this field is the Norwegian cruise liner Hurtigrutten that has ordered two hybrid ferries and also the company Color line that has planned for a plug-in-hybrid cruise liner. Meanwhile has the Finish company Viking line started to look into the possibility to use wind power in collaboration with the energy company Norsepower.

I think the article has many layers and shows in a clear way the need of a stricter policy-making when it comes to the cruise industry. However it also empathizes the importance that the industry and politics must work together to reach a common goal without suffocating each other on the road to success.

References:

https://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/2017/mar/09/sustainable-sea-travel-cruise-holidays-shipping-air-pollution-renewables-biofuels

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