One cruise ship emits the same volume of air pollutants as 5 million cars traveling the same distance, according to German environmental organization Nabu.
New International Maritime Organisation rules that take effect in 2020 will require cruise ships to reduce their emissions. In advance of these regulations, several cruise companies are already taking steps to reduce their environmental pollution, the Guardian reports.
Switching from heavy fuel oil to cleaner liquefied natural gas (LNG) is one way cruise ships can limit their emissions. Companies including Royal Caribbean Cruises and Carnival Group, which owns Aida and the P&O lines, are already investing in LNG-powered ships. Royal Caribbean Cruises will launch its first fleet of LNG ships in 2022. The company will also begin testing fuel cell technology in ships this year.
Royal Caribbean is also retrofitting 19 of its ships with advanced emissions purification (AEP) systems. This will remove more than 97 percent of the sulfur dioxide emissions generated by the ships’ diesel engines and ensure compliance with the IMO sulfur dioxide emissions rules.
Meanwhile, other cruise lines are looking to power their ships with electricity and wind power to lower emissions. Cruise liner Hurtigruten has ordered a pair of hybrid powered cruise ships. Color Line also plans to use battery power in the form of a plug-in hybrid.
Finish cruise company Viking Line has partnered with energy company Norsepower to install a rotor sail system on an LNG-powered ship.
Additionally, ports in Los Angeles, Long Beach, San Francisco and San Diego power docked ships with electricity. This cuts air pollution from the ships at berth by 95 percent, according to the Port of Long Beach.
Major shippers are also working to make cargo shipping more environmentally sustainable.
Last summer five global companies — AB InBev, AkzoNobel, DSM, FrieslandCampina and Huntsman — introduced a rating system to help shippers choose more sustainable ocean freight carriers.
Heineken USA, which has reduced its carbon emissions associated with distribution by 3.7 percent since 2011, is working with different industries to reduce emissions associated with marine container transport through BSR’s Clean Cargo Working Group. The group helps ocean freight carriers track and benchmark their performance.
An in another example of a new business model to benefit ship owner’s environmental improvements, AkzoNobel’s first-of-its-kind carbon credits program for the shipping industry in 2015 awarded two ship owners a combined total of nearly $500,000 for 17 vessels. This program rewards ship owners for converting from a biocidal antifouling system to a biocide-free advanced hull coating.