In an article published recently in TradeWinds, Carnival Corp claimed that it has switched all of its cruise ships sailing to the Arctic from burning heavy fuel oil to low-sulfur marine gasoil.
Since December, 2016, international environmental organisations involved in the ‘Clean Up Carnival’ coalition have been calling on the cruise giant to reduce its environmental and human health impacts by ending its use and carriage of HFO.
“If true, (this) announcement makes Carnival Corp the first major cruise company to pledge this kind of commitment to protecting the Arctic. Stand.earth applauds this as an important step in the right direction, and a move that puts the shipping sector on the pathway to a truly heavy fuel oil-free Arctic.
“Now Carnival should take the next logical step to ensure that none of its ships travelling to the region are carrying heavy fuel oil on board,” said Kendra Ulrich, Senior Shipping Campaigner, Stand.earth.
However, when this change actually took place remains unclear, the environmentalists claim. They said that Carnival made contradictory statements to TradeWinds in October, 2018 that it uses HFO and exhaust gas scrubbers to power its cruise ships in the Arctic, while the latest announcement claimed Carnival had been using marine gasoil to power its ships in the Arctic since late 2016.
Due to the conflicting statements, the coalition said it remained cautiously optimistic, but asked Carnival to release its data on ship fuel use beginning in 2016.
“In the interest of transparency, Carnival should release its fuel logs to show the world it has been, and will continue to be, a leader in getting heavy fuel oil out of this fragile Arctic ecosystem,”Ulrich said.
Carnival’s announcement likely applies only to ships sailing within Arctic waters as defined by the IMO. Only nine Carnival-owned ships travel to IMO-defined Arctic waters, while 49 Carnival-owned ships travel north of the 50th parallel to the wider geographic Arctic, sub-Arctic, and Alaska.
“Switching to a cleaner fuel while still carrying heavy fuel oil on board doesn’t address the concerns about the long-term impact of a spill of this thick, tar-like oil in this fragile region. Multiple Arctic countries, as well as indigenous leaders and organisations, have called for an end to heavy fuel oil in this region. The only appropriate response that respects the will of the people who have called this place home for tens of thousands of years is to stop bringing heavy fuel oil to the Arctic altogether,” said Verner Wilson III, Senior Oceans Campaigner with Friends of the Earth US and member of the Curyung Tribe.
Carnival Corp is the largest fee-paying member of Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), and Carnival CEO, Arnold Donald sits on CLIA’s board. CLIA regularly participates in international policy negotiations at the IMO, where member states are working toward a global ban on the use and carriage of heavy fuel oil in the Arctic.
With this announcement, the ‘Clean Up Carnival’ coalition is asking CLIA to follow Carnival’s example and fully support a ban.
The Clean Arctic Alliance, a coalition of 18 non-profit organisations calling for a ban on the use and carriage of HFO in Arctic waters because of the impact of spills and higher emissions of black carbon contributing to melting sea ice, also welcomed the news.
“With the IMO’s Arctic ban on the use and carriage of heavy fuel oil on the horizon, and measures to reduce black carbon emissions from shipping currently under discussion at the IMO, Carnival’s decision to not use heavy fuel oil lays down a challenge to all Arctic shipping operators. Banning the world’s dirtiest fuel from Arctic shipping is the simplest and easiest way to reduce the risks of long-lasting, damaging oil spills, and will result in a significant reduction in emissions of black carbon, which exacerbates sea ice melt when it settles on snow and ice. Now it’s up to Arctic operators to meet Carnival’s challenge, by making the switch to cleaner fuels,” added Dr Sian Prior, Lead Advisor to the Clean Arctic Alliance.
‘Clean Up Carnival’ members include Stand.earth (North America); Transport & Environment (Europe); Friends of the Earth US; Pacific Environment (North America and Asia); and ECODES25 (Spain).
As for the IMO, at the February Pollution Prevention and Response (PPR6) meeting, this Sub-Committee began work to develop measures to reduce the risks of use and carriage of HFO in Arctic waters.
A draft methodology for analysing impacts of a ban on HFO for the use and carriage as fuel by ships in Arctic waters was agreed. The meeting invited submissions to PPR 7, especially those by Arctic States, containing impact assessments guided by but not limited to the methodology.
The methodology sets out five steps to assess the impact of a ban. Specific analyses that are detailed include: determination of the study area; assessment of the costs to Arctic indigenous and local communities and industries; assessment of the benefits of an HFO ban to Arctic indigenous and local communities and ecosystems; and consideration of other factors that could either ameliorate adverse impacts of a ban or accommodate specific situations.
Meanwhile, last month, an IMO correspondence group was instructed to develop guidelines on measures to reduce risks of use and carriage of HFO in Arctic waters. The guidance could include sections on navigational measures; ship operations; infrastructure (onshore and offshore) and communications; enhanced preparedness for emergencies of oil spills, early spill detection and response; drills and training; and economic assessment of potential measures.
PPR6 also identified a number of potential control measures to reduce the impact on the Arctic of black carbon emissions from international shipping.
A simplified compilation of the identified control measures was forwarded to MEPC 74, due to meet in May. The Committee was asked to provide instruction on further work on the reduction of the impact on the Arctic of Black Carbon emissions from international shipping.