Environmental pollution from cruise ships: NABU and CLIA comment on this.

NABU cruise ranking 2018: AIDA scores with alternative drive. Ship exhaust gases are a burden on the environment and health.

There is only one cruise ship that does without toxic heavy fuel oil and uses a lower-emission fuel instead: The AIDA Nova is the first cruise ship in the world to be operated with liquefied natural gas (LNG). As a result, the new building took first place in the 2018 NABU cruise rankings . All other of the 76 ships surveyed, including eight out of nine ships entering the market this year, are stuck with the dirtiest fuel of all, heavy fuel oil. The industry giants MSC Cruises, Celebrity Cruises and Royal Caribbean in particular currently have little to offer in the area of ​​environmental protection. For the ports, NABU is calling for a ban on entry for dirty ships from 2020.

Only the German providers Hapag-Lloyd Cruises and TUI Cruises can keep up to a certain extent when it comes to air pollution control by using nitrogen oxide catalytic converters on their latest additions to the fleet or by being equipped to supply shore power during port operations. However, one looks in vain for a particle filter to reduce the particularly harmful soot particles on these ships.

NABU criticism of shipping companies because of heavy oil.

“It is a scandal that in 2018 ships are still coming onto the market that are designed to use heavy oil as fuel and do not use effective exhaust technology. In all major port cities in Europe, people are suffering massively from the excessive air pollution caused by the booming cruise industry," says NABU Federal Managing Director Leif Miller. But the shipowners continue to evade their responsibility for the most part. "More port cities and regions that are particularly worthy of protection must finally impose entry bans for dirty cruise ships, as is already the case in Norwegian fjords," says Miller. This is the only way to get the danger to the health of local residents and sensitive ecosystems under control in the short term.

Praise for AIDA Nova, which is the first cruise ship to run on LNG.

However, public pressure, supported by the NABU campaign for clean cruise ships, is beginning to bear fruit. In 2018, AIDA Nova, a cruise ship powered by LNG, will set sail for the first time. The use of this fuel reduces the exhaust gas pollution significantly and is therefore a real improvement in air quality, especially for affected residents in port cities and near the coast. Dietmar Oeliger, Head of Transport Policy at the NABU Federal Association: “It is commendable that AIDA is leading the way here and is using emission-reducing technology for new ships. Competitors are now being asked to invest significantly more in this area. Nevertheless, all companies are still required to promote solutions for comprehensive exhaust gas cleaning for the much larger existing fleet.”

In addition, LNG is by no means the savior for shipping, since it is still a fossil fuel. Unfortunately, too often embellished figures are used here. "A recently published study by our umbrella organization Transport & Environment shows again that LNG does not offer any significant advantage over diesel when it comes to climate protection," says Oeliger. The industry is therefore called upon to vigorously develop and use across the board drive systems and fuels that not only significantly reduce air pollutant emissions, but also CO2 emissions. Without a massive technological change in shipping, the Paris climate goals would otherwise not be met.

NABU demands entry ban for dirty ships in ports from 2020.

For the ports, NABU is calling for a ban on entry for dirty ships from 2020. “The shipowners had enough time to decide whether to install effective exhaust gas technology on board, burn cleaner fuel or have external shore power supplied. There is no lack of opportunities, but rather the will of political decision-makers to demand something from the cruise industry," says Malte Siegert, Head of Environmental Policy at NABU Hamburg. The enormous health hazards of ship emissions are no longer acceptable.

As expected, Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), the unified voice of the international cruise industry, disagrees with NABU's presentation in the 2018 cruise ranking. 

CLIA comments on the NABU cruise ranking 2018

The cruise association CLIA comments on some statements by NABU on the occasion of a cruise ranking published today. In principle, NABU and CLIA are pursuing the same goals, namely reducing emissions and protecting the environment. However, opinions differ with regard to the corresponding technical procedures and the possible speed of implementation.

From the point of view of the CLIA cruise association, some statements by NABU must be classified, since an undifferentiated view of the facts leads to incorrect conclusions and misunderstandings. This includes the following aspects.

Heavy fuel oil: The use of heavy fuel oil without the appropriate filter is prohibited in the North and Baltic Seas and the adjacent ports, among other places. According to the regulation, ships in these waters and the connected ports have not used heavy fuel oil without the use of appropriate filters since 2015. Specifically, this means that cruise ships that use heavy fuel oil must also use legally recognized technologies (so-called exhaust aftertreatment systems) that reduce sulfur emissions to the level of low-sulphur diesel fuel. With this process, other pollutants are filtered out of the exhaust gas at the same time. Alternatively, the ships must use other fuels, such as marine diesel or LNG (liquefied natural gas). The competent authorities regularly check compliance with this requirement. To date, no violation by a cruise ship has been identified. The assertion that all cruise ships use heavy fuel oil and do not use any filter systems is therefore wrong.

A stricter worldwide sulfur limit has already been decided. The IMO (International Maritime Organization), a sub-organization of the United Nations, is responsible for the international regulation of shipping. From January 1, 2020, only fuels that contain a maximum of one seventh the sulfur content of currently permitted fuels will be permitted. Since January 1, 2015, there has been a maximum sulfur content of 0.1 percent in the North and Baltic Seas and in the ports. Although cruise ships make up less than 1 percent of the world's merchant fleet, CLIA is going a step further and is in favor of a ban on ships carrying illicit fuels. This tightened standard would provide additional support for compliance with the new regulation.

111 of 253 CLIA cruise ships are equipped with exhaust aftertreatment systems.

Environmental technologies: According to CLIA surveys, 111 of the current 253 ships in the worldwide fleet of CLIA members are already equipped with exhaust aftertreatment systems (as of August 2018). According to the manufacturers, multi-stage exhaust gas cleaning systems reduce sulfur emissions by 99 percent, nitrogen oxides by 95 percent and soot particles by 90 percent. The majority of the 111 ships are deployed in the North and Baltic Seas because of environmental protection requirements. The number of ships with exhaust aftertreatment systems is increasing: about a year ago there were 99 ships. The progress shows that the industry as a whole is working on the use of new technologies. In addition to exhaust aftertreatment systems, more and more ships with alternative propulsion systems are coming onto the market. The first cruise ship in the world to be operated exclusively with liquid gas was completed in Germany today. Shipping companies are investing heavily in new ships and technologies: More than every fourth euro that shipping companies spent in Europe last year alone went on shipbuilding and the maintenance of cruise ships. This corresponds to 5.63 billion euros. NABU's request to push ahead with equipping the entire cruise fleet with environmental technologies has already been met.

Cruising accounts for 1 percent of nitrogen oxide emissions in Hamburg.

Responsible for 1 percent of emissions in Hamburg: The cruise industry is also committed to reducing emissions in the port cities. And that despite the fact that cruising, for example, only accounts for about one percent of the nitrogen oxide emissions in the city of Hamburg*. The fact that NABU speaks of a massive burden from the "excessively high levels of air pollution caused by the booming cruise industry" is not based on the facts and rather unsettles consumers. In addition, the Hanseatic city is currently the only port in Europe that offers shore power supply for cruise ships. This further reduces emissions from cruise ships in port. The second port will also be a German one: Kiel. Climate and environmental protection remains an ongoing task for CLIA and its members. This is shown by the investments in ship equipment and the constant dialogue with international shipping organizations. Every year the cruise industry advances. We want to remain a pioneer in maritime environmental protection in the future.

No filters available for ultrafine particles: NABU repeatedly calls for the use of filters for fine dust. The fact is that there are currently no filters for large ship engines that are ready for use anywhere in the world that could filter out ultrafine dust from exhaust gases. The cruise industry is therefore taking different paths at the same time: on the one hand, they are working intensively on the development of filter technology and, on the other hand, they are increasingly using other fuels for ship engines, such as liquid gas (LNG). However, the already available and built-in soot particle filters for particle sizes of PM 2.5 and PM 10 are ignored in the ranking.

Arbitrary awarding of points: A scientific and comprehensible approach cannot be identified in cruise rankings. This is shown, among other things, by the fact that NABU assesses environmental technologies differently from year to year. While last year the use of nitrogen oxide catalytic converters and the use of shore power was only rated at 1.5 points, this year it is 2.5 points. However, the maximum number of points is still 4 points.

Measurement methods of NABU: The measurements of NABU are not particularly meaningful for two reasons: On the one hand, selective measurements of emissions behind or on a ship cannot be compared with the average values ​​that are measured by a fixed measuring station over a period of 24 hours or longer, to meet scientific requirements. On the other hand, the NABU measurements are repeatedly carried out with a hand-held measuring device that the manufacturer says is not suitable for this purpose. This device has been manufactured for clean indoor areas and therefore does not provide reliable results outside of indoor areas. The random measurements by NABU in the open field are therefore scientifically untenable.

* This is proven by the current air pollution control plan in Hamburg

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