Zero Waste Shanghai
Cruise ship giants impact on the oceans游轮公司对环境的影响
Written by Sandy / Translated by Jun
While China and other parts of the world were social distancing and spending more time at home, we caught more glimpses of blue skies. Pollution levels have gone down temporarily due to drop in manufacturing and transportation. While we generally focus on factories and cars as culprits for pollution, there is another huge contributor to pollution and other environmental issues that have not been heavily
discussed about⎯cruise ships.
Balancing the Benefits and Downsides
The challenging question has always been, how do countries strike a balance
for the well-being of their people, environment and economy?
The tourism cruise ships bring to transitioning economies are critical to their growth. As
visitors arrive, they spend on the nearby souvenir shops and restaurants, supporting the
local businesses. Jobs are created as the tourism traffic opens up opportunities for new
services. Regions that are limited in other resources can leverage their unique traditions,
cultures and landscape to bring in money for the local community.
But there are some devastating environmental impacts. Like Southampton in the UK, locals have inevitably been suffering from poor health due to high pollution levels, contributed by the ships docking in the nearby waters. Maritime fuels from cruise ships have also not been as thoroughly researched as automotive fuels for their health implications. In addition, surrounding ocean health may also suffer due to plastic waste finding its way into the water and other effects from overtourism.
German environment group Nabu estimates that for the same travel distance, one medium cruise ship emits as many pollutants as five million cars. With ships belching out about 3,500 times more sulphur dioxide than cars, a person on a seven-day cruise ship is estimated to emit the same amount as 18 days on land. Generally, these ships use diesel engines that produces nitrogen oxide emissions, known to be linked to respiratory diseases and possibly lung cancer.
Especially going across different regions that have varying standards for air pollutants,
cruise ships have been slipping through many loopholes for air quality control. The
International Maritime Organization (IMO) have finally started to introduce new measures, where in 2020, vessels will be made to switch to cleaner fuel with lower sulfur content.
What else is being done?
Alternative power sources are being explored by various top cruise ship companies. Carnival Corporation, the world’s largest cruise company, has been trying LNG-powered ships in order to also further its goals of reducing its environmental footprint through 2020.
A challenge on and off the boat, single-use plastics are slowly being addressed aboard cruise ships. Oceania Cruises partnered with Vero Water to introduce more environmentally friendly water distillation and reusable bottles starting in 2019. Other cruise lines are doing similar projects in attempt to eliminate single-use plastics or replace with more recycle- friendly alternatives.
In acknowledgement of overtourism, both Carnival and Royal Caribbean are communicating more with the local communities to understand the impact of cruise tourism. They hope to try controlling number of visitors and introduce more tours certified by the Global Sustainable Tourism Council.
Environmental impact will continue to be an issue that we should all be aware of. Just as the world is transitioning to a “new normal”, the cruise ship industry should prioritize how they can adjust business models to continue to be more environmentally friendly.
For us vacationers, we can do our part, starting by keeping ourselves aware of and informed about our own environmental footprints.