• Business Business

New study reveals troubling finding about a popular cruise line: '[It requires] technologies that don't yet exist'

"The maritime sector is no exception."

Carnival Corporation, cruise ships produce more harmful sulfur oxide pollution

Photo Credit: iStock

Cruise ships are extravagant in many ways, including the amount of air pollution they produce. According to Business Insider, a recent study of the Carnival Corporation revealed that in 2022, this company's cruise lines produced more sulfur oxide pollution than all the cars in Europe — with just 63 ships.

What's happening?

Sulfur oxides are a type of air pollution. In June, the European Federation for Transport and Environment released a study on the sulfur oxide emissions of all the cruise lines operating in Europe's ports. It found that the Carnival Corporation's nine cruise lines — including Princess, Costa, and AIDA — produced 43% more of this type of air pollution than the 291 million cars on Europe's roads at the time.

Why does the Carnival Corporation's sulfur oxide matter?

According to the EPA, sulfur oxides, including sulfur dioxide, harm the human respiratory system. They make asthma worse, damage plants, contribute to acid rain, and create a visible haze in the air.

The world is making a huge amount of progress in lowering air pollution by switching to electric cars. But if one company can produce more air pollution than all the individual households in Europe combined, it could wipe out that progress just to operate a few luxury cruises.

Not only that, but sulfur oxides mask some effects of other types of air pollution. Business Insider reports that while carbon air pollution and many other types of pollution raise the Earth's temperature, sulfur oxides lower it by reflecting sunlight; therefore, reducing sulfur pollution should be paired with reducing other types of pollution.

What's being done about this air pollution?

Business Insider reports that this is significantly less sulfur pollution than the Carnival Corporation used to produce. In 2017, the company's ships emitted 10 times more sulfur oxides than Europe's cars. This change is because of a 2020 regulation by the International Maritime Organization that lowered the maximum sulfur content of ship fuel from 3.5% to 0.5%.

According to Business Insider, this new law is predicted to prevent 570,000 unnecessary deaths by 2025. However, Carnival Corporation and the world will need to continue improving to address the problem.

"Addressing climate change requires energy sources and technologies that don't yet exist for any industry, and the maritime sector is no exception," a Carnival spokesperson said. "We're committed to pioneering key sustainability initiatives in the industry and have joined forces to share information, research and best practices with companies, universities, research bodies, nongovernmental organizations, and others."

Join our free newsletter for cool news and actionable info that makes it easy to help yourself while helping the planet.

Cool Divider