Cruise industry on track to meet 2050 environmental goals
Cruise lines have made great strides in becoming a more environmentally conscious industry in recent years.
From switching to cleaner marine fuels, to more ports offering shore power, and investing in newer, cleaner cruise ships, the cruise industry is undoubtedly listening to the huge amount of criticism that she has received over the last 20 to 30 years.
However, with the commitment to become completely carbon neutral by 2050, there is still a long way to go. According to CLIA, an organization representing the cruise industry, switching to fuels such as LNG is definitely one more cruise lines will need to embrace. However, not everyone is convinced of the environmental benefits of LNG.
Cruise industry on track to meet 2050 goals
Over the years, cruise ships have become more environmentally friendly and the cruise industry has worked hard to improve even more.
The days when cruise ships could pull into port and emit black smoke while blowing up the smokestacks are becoming a much rarer sight than 10 or 20 years ago. This is definitely something to be thankful for.
CLIA, the Cruise Lines International Association, has released its 2022 Global Cruise Industry Environmental Technologies and Practices Report, showing the industry’s progress so far. Progress must be made if the goal of being net zero carbon globally by 2050 is to be achieved.
Over the years, we have seen several innovations brought to cruise liners that show how change is no longer a “bad” word in the cruise industry. Instead, it’s the one being kissed.
The changes include moving to LNG-powered cruise shipshighly advanced exhaust gas cleaning systems, waste water filtration and disposal systems that clean waste water up to 100%, and even fuel cell technology.
President and CEO, CLIA, Kelly Craighead said: “Innovation and engineering are at the heart of the industry’s vision for carbon-free cruising. The cruise industry continues to lead the way by investing billions to integrate new technologies, accelerate the development of sustainable marine fuels, especially engines capable of using sustainable marine fuels, and enable shore-based electrical connectivity on existing and new vessels.
“These are the building blocks for decarbonizing global shipping, and we are acting now for the future.”
Cruise ports are also doing their part, providing shore power so cruise ships can turn off their engines while docked. And 85% of new ships coming out in the coming years will be equipped with shore power capabilities.
Is LNG good?
So everything is fine ? Indeed, the efforts of the cruise industry are evident. But some opponents say the switch to LNG, in particular, is not as effective as advertised. Large amounts of methane are produced during the production and use of LNG, a much more dangerous greenhouse gas.
Researchers at the Energy Institute at University College London found in 2018 that “there is no significant reduction in CO2 equivalent achieved through the use of LNG as a marine fuel”.
This is also why Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings has declared that it will not introduce LNG on its ships. The company sees methanol as a viable fuel to power its ships. Other cruise lines are turning to biofuel, or even fuel cellsall the options that seem like a better option than LNG.
Another issue is the use of shore power. If the principle is viable, the question is where this power comes from. As Harry Sommer, president of Norwegian Cruise Line, pointed out at a conference in New York last week, it all depends on how that electricity is generated:
“If they’re using coal-fired power, shore power doesn’t do anything. It just transfers carbon emissions elsewhere. So we want to be very careful about the use of electricity on land in places that generate electricity from at least one somewhat sustainable source. »
Governments and the cruise industry must work together
In conclusion, there is a demonstrable desire to become a more environmentally conscious and a friendly cruise industry. However, change is slow and requires huge innovation before a 5,000 passenger cruise ship can sail without adverse effects.
“The cruise industry has always been and will continue to be at the forefront of innovation in environmental and maritime technologies,” said CLIA Global President Pierfrancesco Vago.
“For this next phase of our journey to net zero as an industry, we now need clear support from governments and policy makers to ensure the right infrastructure is also developed on land and to encourage investment. and innovation that will be required for the development of large-scale sustainable marine fuels.
The technology exists; there are ways cruise ships can get carbon clean. However, it will take huge investments from the cruise industry and governments to create the infrastructure to allow the hundreds of cruise ships around the world to store fuels such as biofuel, methanol or even hydrogen. . And that could take many years.