Ocean Rebellion’s first protest targets environmentally catastrophic cruise liners
A “sea-faring sister” of Extinction Rebellion has put the spotlight on the catastrophic environmental impact of luxury cruise liners, which produce on average three times more climate pollution per person per mile than the equivalent flight.
The new activist group Ocean Rebellion, have first targeted a 196-metre (644ft) luxury cruise liner, The World, docked in Falmouth, Cornwall. The converted ocean liner that calls itself the world’s largest residential ship produces, according to XR, “ten times more greenhouse gases per person per mile than a jumbo jet”.
Although there are currently no residents aboard because of the pandemic, its tax-dodging exclusively multimillionaire residents are normally promised “a life of adventure at the pinnacle of luxury” as the ship circumnavigates the globe.
The protest was the first of a series of non-violent direct actions to “tell the truth about ocean destruction; to reverse drivers of ocean warming, acidification and sea level rise by 2025; and to hold the UN to its duty to govern the seabed for the benefit of mankind, rather than the interests of a few.”
A video of the demonstration that was uploaded to YouTube has since been taken down after a copyright claim by owners of the vessel.
Free pass to cruise companies
A report by clean transport campaigners Transport & Environment (T&E) found that luxury cruise brands owned by the world’s largest cruise company, Carnival Corporation & PLC, emitted in just one year, 10 times more disease-causing sulphur oxide in European seas than all of Europe’s 260+ million passenger vehicles.
“Luxury cruise ships are floating cities powered by some of the dirtiest fuel possible,” according to Faig Abbasov, shipping policy manager at T&E. “Cities are rightly banning dirty diesel cars but they’re giving a free pass to cruise companies that spew out toxic fumes that do immeasurable harm both to those on board and on nearby shores. This is unacceptable.”
Sulphur oxide is one of the main pollutants from cruise ships alongside nitrogen oxide. Both of these substances can lead to acid rain, which has adverse effects on ecosystems in lakes and rivers as well as causing damage to forests. Emissions of sulphur oxide can also worsen asthma, reduce lung function and lead to inflammation of the respiratory tract.
Some popular city destinations, such as Venice, are suffering more from the effects of cruising than others. In 2017, over 27,500 kg of sulphur oxide was emitted by cruise ships in Venice compared to 1,362 kg by cars. It recently banned large ships after concerns were raised about the erosion of building foundations from the waves they create. In the wake of the respite the pandemic has given to Venice’s waters, the city is considering more than ever limiting numbers of tourists, many of whom arrive on these grotesquely damaging cruise liners.
Unsurprisingly, the easiest thing you can do is avoid cruises. You can also spread the message, helping people understand the industry’s damaging impacts. Share information on social media and talk to friends and family considering cruise holidays. If you want to protest, Ocean Rebellion on 6 September will be joining other movements for the Marine Extinction March.