One ship equals up to 5,000 cars

10.09.2021 - 13:48
Mynd með færslu
 Mynd: RÚV
Árni Finnsson, chair of the Iceland Nature Conservation Association, this week spoke about cruise ships at a symposium held by the Landvernd conservation charity. “We measured it in 2019 and these ships are polluting as much as 5,000 cars a minute,” he said—referring to particulate emissions research his organisation carried out in Reykjavík in collaboration with the Clean Arctic Alliance.

Árni said that even though cruise ships are not burning fuel oil, they still pollute a great deal; especially in the form of particulate pollution. He said particulates are a public health hazard and that such pollution is a big problem in Reykjavík.

"Should tax it off the table” 

Árni admits that most cruise ships burn fuel that is somewhat cleaner than fuel oil, but says they still pollute a lot and their exhaust funnels are full of soot. 

"It is actually unbelievable this is carrying on. We benefit very little from these tourists," Árni told the symposium; referring to the fact that cruise passengers often spend more money on board than ashore. 

“We should just tax it nearly off the table. If people want to come here, they should take part in paying for electricity to cruise ships in Reykjavík, and no later than yesterday,” Árni said, in reference to the electrification of ships that his organisation is calling for. 

Ban fuel oil within 12 miles 

“We want to ban ships that burn fuel oil within Iceland's 12-mile territorial waters,” Árni stated. “That is to say, no ship gets to enter Iceland’s territorial waters unless there is no fuel oil on board."  

El Grillo, he points out, was full of fuel oil when it was sunk in Seyðisfjörður during the Second World War. That shipwreck is still causing environmental damage today. “It’s nearly hopeless trying to clean it up.” 

Norway is already imposing such a limit around Svalbard. “That means that cruise ships, cargo ships, or other ships that burn fuel oil, they can just go somewhere else,” Árni explained. 

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