Shipping companies are still doing far too little to protect the environment, health and climate, according to NABU’s 10th environmental cruise ranking.
NABU is the oldest and, with more than 875,000 members and sponsors (as of January, 2022), the environmental association with the largest number of members in Germany.
The organisation evaluated the implemented measures and goals of the cruise operators. Rankings are based on NABU’s roadmap, which involves 19 shipping companies being surveyed, in which a maximum of 17 points can be awarded to each company.
However, first-placed Hurtigruten only reached half of the possible points, while all other companies were below this level, the organisation said.
Among the top five were the three German companies AIDA, Hapag-Lloyd Kreuzfahrten and TUI Cruises, which could be regarded as pioneers, especially for measures taken on large and very large ships.
The limited projects towards more climate-friendly operations must be implemented promptly on a larger scale, NABU said. Results also showed that the many companies are coming up with fine words and announcements but thus far, little has been implemented to improve the situation.
“On the 10th anniversary of the NABU cruise ranking, the results once again show that environmental and climate protection still do not enjoy the necessary quality.
“The toxic but cheap heavy fuel oil continues to be the fuel of choice for the majority of the fleet. Only a few really future-proof projects are in planning and implementation. But the natural and climate crises are acute,” explained Leif Miller, NABU Federal Managing Director, “Only those who phase out heavy fuel oil today and provide zero emissions as standard for all new ships can credibly demonstrate that the announcements for a climate-neutral future are meant seriously.”
The majority of companies have a climate strategy and are committed to the Paris climate goals, NABU pointed out. The top shipping companies are using modern technologies, such as batteries and fuel cells, which can ensure climate-neutral operation in the future, however, thus far, only as small additions to the combustion engine.
TUI Cruises has ordered a ship to be operated using climate-neutral methanol. However, fossil fuels is still the standard.
Heavy fuel oil remains the first choice and LNG-fuelled ships can be found on the orderbooks. Hurtigruten, Hapag-Lloyd Cruises and PONANT score points with heavy fuel oil phase-out and shore power, but these expedition ships do not have a good environmental balance per person.
This is due to the fact that there are often far fewer passengers on board the ships. In addition, an expedition cruise is often accompanied by a flight to the other end of the world and also takes place in ecologically sensitive areas.
Sönke Diesner, NABU’s cruise expert, commented: “The fact that Hurtigruten is the winner shows that cruises on fixed routes along the coasts make the necessary climate and environmental measures more predictable and thus easier to implement. But it also shows that strict regulation helps.
“Norway has had strict NOx requirements since 2007. In addition, certain fjords will only be allowed to be navigated by zero-emission ships in the future.
“For us, this means that we need stricter laws across the board in order to promote comparable development throughout the industry. These include a general ban on heavy fuel oil, a shore power obligation and an e-fuel quota, such as stricter efficiency requirements and the large-scale designation of zero- and low-emission areas at sea,” she said.
Zero emissions at a berth can already be achieved today if a ship is connected to shore power and can thus stop the engines while in port. So far, however, very few people have used this possibility.
Malte Siegert, Chairman of NABU Hamburg, added: “Shore power plants have been built for millions of taxpayers’ money – in Hamburg as early as 2016! But hardly any of the approximately 50 luxury liners calling at Hamburg make use of it.
“The cruise industry must be obliged to finally take the green shore power made available to them. The city and the cruise industry are required to keep their promise to residents and to effectively minimise pollutant and greenhouse gas emissions. The following must apply: no shore power, no access!” he stressed.
A representative Civey survey commissioned by NABU showed that over 76% of people living in Germany want cruise companies to do without heavy fuel oil. To underline this demand, the environmental association is now calling for a letter of protest to be sent via the action website
www.NABU.de/Schweroel to the heads of AIDA, TUI, Costa, MSC, Carnival and Royal Caribbean, calling on them to immediately stop using the toxic fuel.
More than 12,000 people have already participated and the promotion runs until December this year, NABU advised.