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Cruise line ‘emits more sulphur gas than all cars in Europe’

June 21, 2019 Headline News No Comments Email Email

As the aviation industry tries to counter allegations that airlines are polluting the skies and adding to global warming, a major European environment group has accused Carnival Corporation, the world’s largest luxury cruise operator, of emitting nearly 10 times more sulphur oxide (SOx) around European coasts than all the cars in Europe.

A new analysis by sustainable transport group Transport & Environment (T&E) says Carnival poured out more SOx than did all of the 260 million cars in Europe in 2017.

SOx emissions form sulphate (SO4) aerosols that increase human health risks and contribute to acidification in terrestrial and aquatic environments.

Established in 1990, T&E represents 60 organisations from 25 countries across Europe, mostly environmental groups and campaigners working for sustainable transport policies at national, regional and local level.

The group has just released results of a study it commissioned to analyse air pollution caused by luxury passenger cruise ships in European  waters. T&E claims the results show that the luxury cruise brands owned by Carnival Corporation & PLC emitted in 2017, in European seas alone, 10 times more sulphur oxide than all of Spain, Italy, Greece, France and Norway – the countries most exposed to cruise ship air pollution in Europe.

Royal Caribbean Cruises, the world’s second largest luxury cruise fleet, came second, yet was still four times worse than the European car fleet, according to the T&E report.

Among the major cruise ports, Barcelona, Palma Mallorca and Venice are the most polluted, the study says.

It’s worth noting that the study concentrates on Europe, where just over 15% of the world’s cruise shipping fleet is deployed annually. In 2017, over one third (35.4%) of the world’s cruise capacity was deployed in the Caribbean and Bahamas, according to the Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association.

“Analysis also reveals that even in sulphur emission control areas (SECAs), where the most stringent marine sulphur fuel standard is mandated, air pollution from cruise ships remains of great concern,” T&E states.

“In Denmark, for example, whose coasts are entirely within SECAs, cruise ships emitted 18 times more SOx in 2017 than all 2.5 million passenger vehicles in a year.

“This is a reflection of both the effectiveness of the fuel quality directive for road transport fuels and the failure to implement equivalent standards for the shipping industry.”

T&E continues: “When it comes to nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions, cruise ships are also of great concern…

“In Denmark again, 107 cruise ships analysed emitted as much NOx in the Danish maritime economic exclusive zone (EEZ) as half the passenger cars operating in the country itself.”

The T&E report recommends a zero-emission berth standard for all European ports.

Anyone wishing to read the report can download it here.

Edited by Peter Needham

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