NABU: European cruise industry ‘far from meeting’ Paris climate goals

While NABU acknowledged the work done by Ponant and AIDA to develop future drives and even carry out pilot projects, the NGO warned that ‘well-known providers from Germany such as TUI Cruises or Hapag-Lloyd Cruises are not yet facing the challenge of climate protection’.

NABU did, however, note that the ‘comparatively small steps’ these cruise companies were making along with MSC and the Norwegian provider Hurtigruten, mean ‘they do significantly better than the industry average.’

Commenting, Leif Miller, NABU CEO, said the survey demonstrated that climate protection in cruise shipping is currently ‘above all, lip service’.

‘Nine out of fifteen providers commit to the Paris climate goals when asked but they do not have a comprehensible strategy for how the targets can be achieved,’ said Miller. ‘There is even more lack of implementation. The industry is running out of time if it wants to be completely emission-free in 2050.’

With a view to the crisis in the industry caused by Covid-19, environmentalists warned against postponing investments in climate protection that had already been promised.

Daniel Rieger, NABU cruise expert, said: ‘The industry, which has been used to success so far, should take advantage of the compulsory break to seriously deal with the question of the signs under which cruises can have a future. Politicians must also intervene, and environmental and climate protection requirements should become a prerequisite for state aid.’

Rieger continued: ‘Fortunately, regulations are taking shape at European level that will include shipping in emissions trading and will abolish the tax exemption for marine fuels. The pressure on providers will increase. For too long it has been left to the industry itself to decide whether and what contribution it would like to make to climate protection – with known results.’

In addition to the cruise ranking, NABU today also published its vision for emission-free cruise shipping in 2050. The three-stage timetable specifies measures to meet the requirements of climate protection.

Among the measures proposed by NABU were the abandonment of ‘toxic’ heavy fuel oil, the development of an individual climate strategy and the use of shore power – all to be implemented within the next three years.

The NGO also called for the first emission-free ship to go into operation by 2030 and a zero-emission standard for all newbuildings. Meanwhile, the retrofitting of the existing fleet with appropriate technologies ‘must also be pushed ahead’, NABU said, which would leave 20 years to be able to operate ‘completely emission-free’ by the middle of the century.

It was also noted that port cities would benefit from these measures.

‘Shore power enables the use of renewable energies when operating the ships. But the provision of the infrastructure in the ports alone is not enough,’ said Malte Siegert, NABU port expert at NABU Hamburg office. ‘The shipowners have to show that they mean business by retrofitting their ships with the appropriate connections and undertaking to buy the green electricity.’

Siegert added: ‘An EU-wide shore power obligation would drive the development that is absolutely necessary and give the port cities security for the investments to be made.’

Rhys Berry

Rhys Berry