The cruise industry has been working on solutions to meet emission requirements effective in 2015. Miami-based Carnival Cruise Lines, is investing more than $180 million into technology to produce clean fuel exhaust. They are testing various technologies on approximately one-third of their fleet of cruise vessels. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the U.S. Coast Guard and Transport Canada are all supporting Carnival’s efforts to develop the technology leading to cleaner fuel technology.
Tom Dow, vice president of public affairs for Carnival, said, “It means that we’re going to be able to burn more economical fuel with a better environmental impact. The outcome is better, the cost is less. But in order to get there, you’ve got to commit a significant amount of time and money and effort to develop these things.”
Carnival’s plan is the latest and largest announced by a cruise company. The overwhelming majority of cruise companies, owning or operating cruise vessels, are working to ensure they comply with the standards set by the International Maritime Organization.
Air pollution from large marine vessels damage the environment and causes public health problems. The EPA believes, by 2020, compliance with the emissions control standards will result in an annual reduction of harmful nitrogen oxides by 320,000 tons, and sulfur oxides by 920,000 tons; a reduction of approximately 86 percent.
All cruise lines operating in waters covered by the Emissions Control Area are in compliance with the current requirements; however, the challenge will be remaining in compliance in 2015 when the requirements and standards become more strict.
Tony Peisley, a cruise industry analyst based in the UK said, “There’s no silver bullets here. The cruise industry, one way or another, its’ going to cost them.”
Christopher Grundler, director of the EPA’s office of transportation and air quality, said, “It would not be an understatement to say that establishment of this zone [an area extending up to 200 miles from North American shores] around North America has been one of the most important environmental programs EPA has put into place in the last 10 years.”
David Pettit, a senior attorney at the National Resources Defense Council, who handles air quality issues said, “Our bottom line is if they figure out something that works, and the emissions are under the limit, I don’t care how they do it.”
The testing by Carnival is meant to produce a commercially viable product, and its efforts are so proprietary they have not even revealed their development partner(s). It is expected Carnival will eventually make its finding available and share the technology with the rest of the cruise industry.
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