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Friday, November 5, 2021 

A round table event organised by Lloyd's Register (LR) involving cruise ship operators has found that despite optimism about the post-pandemic recovery prospects, the industry still faces a massive challenge in the form of decarbonisation.

The round table was held under the ‘Chatham House Rule’ – meaning no mention of individuals’ identities or affiliations can be referenced – and identified a number of key issues, of which decarbonisation was seen as the number one challenge. Although cruise ship operators have been quick to address energy efficiency measures and the need for cleaner fuels, for example with the widescale adoption of LNG-powered propulsion within the sector, delivering on the IMO's Greenhouse Gas ambitions requires other advances.

With calls for the shipping industry as a whole to embrace the ambition to reach net zero by 2050 – or even earlier – it was felt that the cruise industry needed to be in the vanguard of such movements. Leading classification societies like LR should continue to take a proactive role in efforts to develop future fuels and ensure that global supply chains are in place, it was urged, since for cruise operators to wait until the necessary infrastructure is in place – currently estimated around 2035 – could be considered ‘too late’ in the eyes of the public.

It was pointed out that LR and other IACS Classification Societies could help by expediting the availability of sound technical standards that will accommodate a range of decarbonisation solutions and specifically the technology that goes with them, LR’s recent Methanol Bunkering Technical Reference, as a guide on how to use that fuel safely, was cited as a good example.

In the meantime, it was felt that cruise operators could engage in carbon offsetting as a means to greater carbon neutrality, as well as join collaborative efforts such as Race to Zero.

A more immediate challenge was highlighted with introduction of IMO’s Energy Efficiency Existing Ship Index (EEXI) and Carbon Intensity Indicator (CII) from January 2023 onwards. Here it was felt that class, cruise lines and flags should all work together to look at the actual operational impact of the measures and their pragmatic implementation. Other environmental issues mentioned included the cruise industry’s use of plastics and the need for independent risk review of all green technology systems onboard. There was also a request for industry support to share success stories of first movers in sustainable technology. In addition, industrywide training was thought to be in need of updating to include new relevant topics, such as a focus on how to handle cryogenics, hydrogen and other dangerous chemicals and remote technologies.

Finally, one of the overriding takeaways was that the cruise industry needs to do a better job at communicating how it is contributing to GHG reductions. From the use of cleaner fuels and alternative propulsion technology, installation of exhaust gas cleaning systems, measures to reduce in-water hull friction such as air lubrication systems, plugging in to shore power when in port to cut emissions, onboard energy-saving initiatives involving lights and air conditioning, zero discharge policies on waste, and the reduction or elimination of single-use plastics onboard. More must be done to share this work with wider society.

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