The Global Cruise Activist Network (GCAN) is calling on the UN delegates currently taking part in COP26 to take immediate steps to ensure that cruise ships in service anywhere in the world comply with standards that will achieve net zero emissions of greenhouse gases by the cruise industry by 2050.
The network said legal analysis showed international shipping emissions were included in the Paris Agreement and had to be included in Parties’ Nationally Determined Contributions to meet economy-wide absolute emission reduction targets to limit global warming to 2oC .
“GCAN recommends that at a minimum, standards for the cruise industry should require emissions reductions of 40% by 2030 and incremental reductions of 5% year-on-year thereafter. Imposing such standards would be consistent with the goals of the Paris Agreement and with the right of every country to control access to its ports,” they stated.
Tom Siebens, a GCAN activist in New England, United States, said: “The shipping industry is seriously lagging in efforts to decarbonise. Cruise ships, in particular, are super-emitters of greenhouse gases. The cruise industry’s carbon footprint will only increase if it is allowed to continue operating as it has in the past. It’s time to abandon ‘cruising as usual’.”
Another activist, Dr Steve Gration, a GCAN activist on Australia’s Gold Coast, said: “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 destroys these treasures. Switching from burning the dirtiest of bunker fuels to natural gas only serves to accelerate climate change. The cruise industry must make drastic reforms to decarbonise if they are to continue.”
Of particular concern to the network were cruise ships hired for accommodation during COP 26.
Linda Clark, a GCAN activist in the Cayman Islands, said: “The accommodation solution in Glasgow to use floating hotels is deeply disappointing and flies in the face of the purpose of the event to limit global pollution. Multiple reports and evidence are available which clearly state the risks to human health and the environment, including the peer reviewed scientific paper published in September this year ‘Environmental and human health impacts of cruise tourism: A Review’ by Lloret et al, and the 2019 report published by the European Federation for Transport and Environment ‘One corporation to pollute them all’. The organisers of the G7 and COP 26 events ought to be very embarrassed by renting these super-polluters and disease incubators.”
The network said ship emissions would continue to grow.
“The worldwide shipping industry produces over 3% of the planet’s greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide -- as much greenhouse gas as all of America’s coal plants combined. These emissions include micro-particles of black carbon, a proven human health hazard in cruise ports as well as a contributor to global warming,” they stated.
The network called for shipping industry targets for decarbonisation to be made tougher.
“The International Maritime Organisation, the arm of the UN responsible for regulating global shipping, has set a goal of 50% reduction in shipping’s greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 compared to 2008 levels. Yet the IMO’s own projections anticipate growth of as much as 30% above 2008 levels by 2050, absent more immediate and effective efforts to decarbonise. The IMO’s actions to date do little to reverse this trend,” the network stated.
Cruise ships, in particular, they said, were “super-emitters” of greenhouse gases and black carbon. The cruise industry’s recovery post-Covid should be truly carbon responsible, not “business as usual”, they urged. The cruise industry’s stated goal of reduced carbon intensity for each ship was “meaningless in the face of continued industry growth”.
“In effect, cruise tourism is undermining the goals of the Paris Agreement,” they confirmed.
The industry ought to impose a series of measures to clean up its act, including operate fewer cruise ships using only the most fuel-efficient, power ships with wind, solar, and non-fossil fuels and add a levy on ship fuel to fund alternative energy research, among other initiatives, they said. It should also halt construction of new cruise piers and terminals worldwide in order to stop further damage to the natural and built environment of ports.
“Cruise ships are a luxury that cause serious climate damage,” the network concluded. “The industry and its regulators must give priority to decarbonising ships and promoting the long-term health of the atmosphere, the marine environment, and port communities. It’s time to abandon “cruising as usual”.”