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Cruise liners continue to reduce their carbon footprint

The global cruise industry has pledged to reduce CO2 emissions by 40 per cent by the year 2030.

The global cruise industry has pledged to reduce CO2 emissions by 40 per cent by the year 2030.

“Cruises have become fundamentally important to the tourism industry. Since 1995 ship passenger numbers have multiplied almost tenfold – and are continuing to rise“, is how Norbert Fiebig, president of the German Travel Association (DRV), described the cruise industry’s huge growth at a press conference at ITB Berlin 2019.

However, the booming cruising industry has come under pressure from environmental groups, whose accusation is that ocean-going liners in particular cause substantial air pollution. In terms of the environmental impact from tourism, the cruise industry’s share is comparatively low, and the same goes for the global shipping industry. In 2018 28.5 million people went on cruises, which according to the UNWTO World Tourism Barometer 2018 equated to two percent of global tourism.

More and more shipping lines are planning to build ships which are more sustainable and environmentally friendly in order to reduce their carbon footprint. New ships which no longer run on heavy fuel oil but on liquid natural gas (LNG) instead are a step in the right direction. This eliminates SOx and PM emissions completely and NOx emissions by up to 70 per cent.

The Aida Nova, the first cruise liner powered solely by LNG, went into service in December 2018. According to the CLIA, another 25 ocean liners powered by this environmentally friendly fuel are due to follow by 2027. Aida for instance is introducing two more ships in 2021 and 2023. Carnival Cruises Lines, Costa Crociere, Disney Cruise Line, P&O Cruises, Royal Caribbean and TUI Cruises have also ordered liners with this environmentally friendly technology. Hurtigruten launched the first ship to feature hybrid systems last year. Lithium ion batteries provide additional power for its diesel engines, so that the ship can run electrically for 30 minutes, thus reducing harmful emissions. Hurtigruten intends to fit two more ships with fully fledged hybrid systems by 2021.

The Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) and its affiliated shipping lines as well as the entire shipping industry are committed to a future that is emissions-free. The global cruise industry has pledged to reduce CO2 emissions by 40 per cent by 2030. According to the CLIA, worldwide the cruise industry has already invested one billion US dollars in new technologies and cleaner fuels in order to significantly reduce maritime air pollution. Ships powered by heavy fuel oil are using emissions-reduction technologies such as exhaust gas treatment systems, implementing measures to reduce water resistance and optimising route planning in order to minimise the environmental impact. The CLIA’s latest update on environmental activities also states that 111 ships with a combined passenger capacity of more than 305,000 are currently equipped with these technologies. Another 12 ships are being retrofitted with exhaust treatment systems, and plans are being made for 30 more. 27 new ships with a combined passenger capacity of almost 100,000 are to be fitted with exhaust treatment systems as standard. According to the CLIA, the number of major liners currently equipped or being retroffitted with shore-to-ship systems which enable them to plug into onshore power while they are berthed is continually on the rise.

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