Activists call for zero tolerance of cruise emissions

| 14/07/2021 | 40 Comments
Cayman News Service
Carnival Corporation has been caught and fined several times for pollution

(CNS): The Global Cruise Activist Network (GCAN) is calling on G20 nations to stop cruise ships entering ports if they don’t meet greenhouse gas emission standards consistent with the goals of the Paris Agreement and to support the right of countries to control access to their ports. The call from the international organisation campaigning for wholesale changes in the cruise sector comes in the wake of the Cayman Islands Government unveiling its plans for the possible return of cruise ships to Grand Cayman at the beginning of next year.

In his address last week at the Chamber of Commerce Legislative Luncheon, Premier Wayne Panton said that the sixth and final phase of the staged border reopening plan would include the relaxation of all travel restrictions, including cruise tourism.

“We will first assess the COVID-19 situation on 27 January next year in a local and international context to determine when and how to proceed with further relaxation of restrictions and travel,” Panton said. “If the assessment allows, we would begin to welcome all travellers and start the re-introduction of cruise tourism.”

But there is a considerable public pushback here against mass cruise tourism, and while some businesses depend on the arrival of ships, there is growing support for restricting the number of ships that visit Cayman on any given day and a significant appetite for reducing tourism dependency on cruise and focus on overnight tourism instead.

While the pandemic highlighted the massive problems presented by cruise ships when it comes to incubating disease and enabling rapid spread, there are many other problems with the cruise sector, such as pollution of the ocean, excessive emissions, the impact of port infrastructures and overcrowding, as well as the influence of cruise lines at the expense of local business and the squeezing of profit margins for local operators.

The received wisdom that large cruise ships boost part’s economies is finally being challenged as the evidence increasingly points to the decline in economic prosperity of those small businesses that cater to the cruise sector in ports the world over.

The cruise lines’ green credentials are also poor and activists accuse them of lagging in efforts to decarbonize. “Cruise ships, in particular, are super-emitters of greenhouse gases. The cruise industry’s carbon footprint will only increase if it is allowed to operate post-pandemic as it has in the past. It’s time to abandon ‘cruising as usual’,” said Tom Siebens, a GCAN activist in a press release Monday.

Dr Steve Gration, a GCAN member from Australia’s Gold Coast, said the worldwide shipping industry produces over 3% of the planet’s greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide. “Cruise ships continue to exploit man-made wonders like Venice and natural wonders like the Great Barrier Reef while contributing to the climate change that will destroy these treasures. Now is the time to rethink the restart of this industry and its unsustainable practices,” he added.

Many cruise lines burn the cheapest and most carbon-intensive fuels. These ships are more carbon-intensive than cargo ships of similar size because they burn fuel constantly, even when in port, to power infrastructure for typically 3,000 and as many as 10,000 passengers and crew. The cruise industry’s recovery post-Covid should be truly carbon responsible, not “business as usual”, the activist have said.

GCAN wants the G20 to promote faster action toward ship emissions and producing incentives to decarbonize the industry, as well as the development of clean power practices, shore power and alternative fuels. In addition to net zero emissions standards, multiple initiatives already underway or in development would, in combination, have a significant impact on reducing the greenhouse gas burden that shipping imposes on our world. Changes need to be pursued with far greater urgency as cruise ships are a luxury that causes serious climate damage, GCAN warned.

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Category: Business, Science & Nature, Tourism

Comments (40)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Interesting report from Canada where their cruise ship ban has resulted in dramatic improvement in sea water quality.

  2. Anonymous says:

    From now on perhaps we should stop calling them ‘cruise’ ships and call then what they are ‘disease carrying, sewage dumping, no benefit to visited countries’, ships.

    • Anonymous says:

      Oh yes, zero emissions from ships because “some islands” have their own mountain high garbage problems…er, not a problem to them though.

      • Anonymous says:

        The cruise ship dump mountains of garbage and greywater into the ocean. Imagine that pile.

        • Anonymous says:

          And all our local boats dump raw untreated sewage in our waters… ships treat and dispose like any other city does.

          It is against the law to dump untreated sewage within 12nm but Cayman local boats do it every day!

          That’s not a floating snickers bar on 7 mile beach!

  3. Anonymous says:

    Don’t bring cruise ships back to our shores. Those who came on them barely spent any money, all they did was pollute our streets with their garbage, cause traffic jams, and literary stink up the waterfront with their sweaty stench. Government should focus on stay over tourism, they are the ones who contribute to our economy and genuinely enjoy our island.

    • Anonymous says:

      its not one or the other.
      yes to to more stayover tourism,
      yes to sustainable cruise ship numbers

      • Anonymous says:

        I can go along with sustainable if that includes a daily spend equal to or greater than that of a stayover tourist. That might be achievable if we only allowed one or two ultra high end ‘expedition’ ships that carry no more than 250 passengers.

        There are a number of these operating in the Caribbean and visiting places like St. Barts. One example is

    • Anonymous says:

      Ummmm you pollute your own island.
      How’s the trash service there 🙂

  4. Anonymous says:

    Ooh look over there a giant squirrel! Nice try.

  5. Anonymous says:

    It is disappointing that the new PACT government is planning to bring back cruise ships without first having a careful public examination of whether we want cruise ships at all.

    If we have to bring back cruise ships in some form, I hope that the arriving ships are limited to 1 or 2 of the ultra-high end ‘expeditions’ ships that carry less than 250 passengers who can afford to contribute more to our economy and environment than a parade of fat bellies, the occasional T-shirt sale and lots of disease laden sewage dumped in our waters.

    • Anonymous says:

      It cracks me up when you complain about fat tourists. Have you looked at your parliament members lately?

  6. Anonymous says:

    Hopefully any plan to ban emissions from cruise ships will include a ban on the viruses and other pathogens that cruise ships bring to our shores. I would be happy if we banned cruise ships permanently.

  7. Anonymous says:

    I remember a very similar photo on the front page of Net News back in 2007 and it was taken from GT. That isn’t just black smoke – it’s soot and toxic pollutants that fall back into the sea.

  8. Cruise Ship Nay Sayer says:

    I recently read a report indicating the Cayman Islands was able to sustain itself without the cruise industry, If I remember clearly, the books were in the black without the short term visitors. Everything does better when you don’t have people burdening the infrastructure. My question is, why do we need to bring the cruise ships back?

  9. Anonymous says:

    What cruise ships?

  10. Piers Boileau Goad says:

    “ The Global Cruise Activist Network (GCAN) is calling on G20 nations to stop cruise ships entering ports if they don’t meet greenhouse gas emission standards consistent with the goals of the Paris Agreement and to support the right of countries to control access to their ports.”
    Any country who has a sea port controls what standards are required and who can enter their ports!
    The lowest standards are those set by the IMO but any port state is allowed to have higher standards, just not lower ones.
    What therefore are they campaigning for? Something they already have the ability to do?
    “ The cruise lines’ green credentials are also poor and activists accuse them of lagging in efforts to decarbonize.” Again, the IMO sets minimum standards but any port state is more than capabable of setting ones higher, once again, nothing below these limits is allowed.
    “ Many cruise lines burn the cheapest and most carbon-intensive fuels.” do you have any proof of that CNS because I can tell you now, from my personal experience at least one of the three big companies demands that ALL of its vessels use diesel of less than 0.1% sulphur when the global IMO limit is less than 0.5% ( AGAIN, my above answer stands. Any port state is more than capable of settling a sulphur standard lower than 0.5%.
    Honestly, this is total rubbish because the pressure should not be on the cruise lines, it should be on National Port States. Cruise lines have a set of rules to follow and for the most part they do. That said, in some far flung ports it’s not always possible to get the right fuel, or even the fuel you order. As such you are allowed to take this fuel provided that you can explain it to the next port you visit. An explanation which isn’t good enough could land you in prison!
    Is this an objective piece or a cruise bashing piece?

    • anon says:

      Piers, I take it you have given up on our piers.I disagree with your comments on “following the rules”, cruise ships such as Carnival realise it is a lot cheaper to pay the fines for such offences as discharging waste in international waters.

    • Anonymous says:

      Cruise ships should be confined to the history books as the environmentally disastrous petridishes they are. They might make their shareholders rich but at an unacceptable cost to the environment and quality of life of the Islands they overwhelm.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Leave cruise ships behind.

  12. Anonymous says:

    have these folk got the same position on plane emissions?

    • Anonymous says:

      If emissions were the only issue, airlines would probably be more of a focus. Cruise ships literally dump their sewage into our waters, and all around the Caribbean sea. The concern is more than just their towers spewing toxic smoke.

      Cruise tourism does very little for us in Cayman as most of us are not Kirkconnells, nor are we the myriad of mistreated, underpaid expats employed by them. Airline travel is essential to and from our islands, and does much less harm to the environment relative to the benefits it provides.

      • Anonymous says:

        cruise ships do not not dump sewage into the sea.
        try harder.

        • Say it like it is. says:

          10.14pm Carnival was fined $40 million in 2016 for dumping rubbish in the ocean, and another $20 million in 2019 for the same offence and for breaking the terms of it’s 5 year probation for the earlier offence.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Damn that industry. Keep it as far away from us as possible!

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