This Friday the Port of Barcelona issued a press release highlighting the arrival at its facilities of the first cruise powered by liquefied natural gas, considering it “a turning point in the port’s environmental strategy, which sees how its commitment to sustainability materializes” . Shortly after, Ecologists in Action and other NGOs criticized this “green washing” and recalled that “liquefied natural gas is a fossil fuel and, therefore, can not be considered an environmental solution.” In Europe there are other cruise companies, such as the Norwegian Hurtigruten, which use biogas in their tanks.
Boris Becker, not the tennis player, but the captain of AIDAnova, managed to dock this cruise, of the German company AIDA Cruises, last Friday in Port de Barcelona. Moved with liquefied natural gas (LNG), the managers of this port authority consider that with its arrival it places Barcelona “as a base port for its cruising and LNG infrastructures and is a turning point in the environmental strategy”.
They understand that this “materializes its commitment to the sustainability of port activity and, more specifically, the use of cleaner fuels.” They added from the Port of Barcelona that LNG “reduces nitrogen oxides (NOx) emissions by 85 percent, entails a substantial reduction in CO2 emissions and completely eliminates particles in suspension and sulfur oxides.”
However, immediately after knowing this information, Ecologists in Action , the Platform for the Quality of the Air, the Neighborhood Assembly for Sustainable Tourism and the European Transport and Environment (T & E) federation answered saying that “LNG is a fossil fuel and, therefore, can not be considered an environmental solution as they are announcing the port authorities.
More greenhouse gases than marine gas oil, according to T & E
Specifically, they detail that “their use in maritime transport can generate greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions up to nine percent higher than the use of marine diesel (MGO), according to a recent report by T & E “. What they do not doubt is that “it is clearly beneficial in terms of reducing emissions of air pollutants,” but that “it should be generalized to all the cruise ships that stop in the city to have a real impact, which will have an impact on substantial improvement of the air quality of the city “.
According to information from the port authority, “it is the first cruise ship powered by LNG, but the cruise industry has already announced or initiated the construction of thirteen more propelled and operated exclusively with this fuel.” Since the NGOs answer that “of the more than 830 scheduled stopovers and the twelve new cruise ships that are released this year in the city, only two will come propelled by gas.”
biogas between the Norwegian fjords and Sweden There will also be some here that contribute to lower environmental impact, such as those that incorporate liquefied biogas in their tanks. If they will land in the Scandinavian fjords, as the Norwegian cruise company Hurtigrutenannounced at the end of last year that it will use biogas to move six of its vessels before 2021, although combined with LNG and batteries.
Other experiences with biogas on ships, although not on cruise ships, are in Sweden , between the gas company Skangas, a subsidiary of the Finnish group Gasum, and the Swedish shipping company Furetank. In the Netherlands, a small boat navigates through Amsterdam fueled by biogas from organic waste from restaurants in the city.
However, the T & E report warns that, although “biomethane has significantly lower GHG emissions than fossil gas, the sustainable raw materials for its production (organic waste) are very limited and can not be increased sustainably.” if we assume that the maximum sustainable potential is produced and that everything is destined to transport (which is very unlikely), it could only cover between 6.2 and 9.5 percent of the transport’s energy needs “.
For environmental NGOs “the Port of Barcelona’s commitment to gas is a smokescreen to hide its inaction in the face of high levels of pollution and to continue expanding terminals and breaking records in the arrival of cruise passengers.”
“Barcelona is the first cruise destination in Europe and the Mediterranean, with more than three million cruise passengers in 2018, and plans to continue growing despite the threat it poses to human health and the enormous environmental and social impacts caused by this type of mass tourism for the city, “they write in the press release of Ecologists in Action.