In response to an annual survey of 63 ships published by German environmental advocacy group Naturschutzbund (NABU) which alleges that the cruise industry has failed to adequately reduce its environmental impact in 2017 or install soot filters as promised, the Cruise Line Industry Association (CLIA) has issued a response that questions the statistics used by NABU. In a published response, the CLIA noted that NABU’s rankings ignored the fact that their member shipping companies had installed exhaust gas technologies such as liquified natural gas (LNG) – which does not produce sulphur dioxide or soot particles – or fuels with lower pollutant levels, all of which not only met the recommended legal regulatory standards for environmental impact but, in certain cases, significantly exceeded expectations.
NABU’s report stated that despite claims that 23 ships had installed soot filters, none were in operation. The report noted that cruise companies Hapag-Lloyd and TUI were given the top position due to their having installed nitrogen oxide catalysts, but sector sector leaders such as Costa, MSC, and Royal Caribbean continued to use heavy fuel oil, which demonstrated little care for the environment or local populace residing near these docking areas. Both the Australian government and the New South Wales Environmental Protection Agency have noted that docked cruise ships may pose a hazard to local population residing in the area due to particulate pollution, with the former mandating the use of low sulphur fuels in the Sydney harbour. With 97 new cruise ships ordered through to 2023 (as per a report in December 2016), questions have arisen regarding the impact of this industry growth on already pressing concerns regarding particulate pollution in particular. Significantly, this assessment by NABU echoes many of their 2015 findings, which were also disputed by the CLIA for scientific and legal standards.
However, the CLIA argued that NABU’s report currently disregards legally-proven technologies. Choosing to emphasise the fat that available technological processes and speed of implementation are separate factors to be considered, the CLIA drew attention to an overview of the technologies employed by their member cruise lines is available publicly and regularly updated.