Cruise lines say they're on the right track toward carbon neutrality

More than three-quarters of the global cruise fleet is equipped to use alternative fuels, but various hurdles need to be overcome before large-scale adoption of such fuels can take place, a new report from CLIA finds. 

The annual cruise industry environmental report, produced by Oxford Economics, found that investment, development and widespread adoption of cleaner-burning biofuels and synthetic fuels face key hurdles such as safe storage, global availability and regulatory obstacles. 

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In delivering the report, CLIA confirmed the industry’s commitment to achieving carbon neutrality by 2050, saying the pandemic’s impact has not slowed those goals. CLIA members are also committed to a 40% global reduction in the rate of carbon emissions from 2008 to 2030, which is consistent with the level set by the International Maritime Organization.

“While cruise has been one of the sectors most acutely impacted by the global pandemic, cruise lines remain at the forefront of the challenge to develop new environmental technologies which benefit the entire shipping industry,” said CLIA CEO Kelly Craighead. “Our industry is committed to pursuing net carbon-neutral cruising by 2050, and CLIA and our ocean-going members are investing in new technologies and cleaner fuels now to realize this ambition.”

The report said that alternatives to heavy fuel oils being developed include biodiesel, methanol, ammonia, hydrogen and electric batteries. The 2021 report found that 52% of new capacity will rely on liquid natural gas (LNG) for primary propulsion, a 3-point increase from 2020.

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CLIA chairman and MSC Cruises CEO Pierfrancesco Vago said the cruise industry is “an enabler of green maritime innovation, which will be the key to decarbonization of shipping.”

Beyond fuel, CLIA member lines are also making progress on shoreside power capability, which enables ships to connect to shoreside electricity and turn off their engines in port. 

The report finds that 82% of new capacity is either committed to be fitted with shoreside electricity capability or will be configured to add shoreside power in the future, and that the lines are collaborating with ports and local authorities to increase the availability.

Currently, 35% of global capacity is fitted to operate on shoreside electricity in 14 ports worldwide where that capability is provided. 

CLIA members represent 267 ships, or 90% of the global cruise fleet.

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