The world’s largest cruise ship sets sail, bringing concerns about methane emissions

Natalie Portman
By Natalie Portman 4 Min Read
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By Doyinsola Oladipo

NEW YORK (RockedBuzz through Reuters) – The world’s largest cruise ship is ready for its maiden voyage on Saturday, however environmental teams worry the liquefied pure gas-powered ship – and different large cruise ships that can observe – might launch dangerous methane within the environment.

Royal Caribbean International’s Icon of the Seas sails from Miami with capability for 8,000 passengers on 20 decks, benefiting from the rising reputation of cruising.

The vessel is constructed to run on liquefied pure fuel (LNG), which burns cleaner than conventional marine gasoline however poses larger dangers for methane emissions. Environmental teams say the methane leak from ship engines poses an unacceptable threat to the local weather as a result of its dangerous short-term results.

“It’s a step in the wrong direction,” stated Bryan Comer, director of the Marine Program on the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT), an environmental coverage assume tank.

“We would estimate that using LNG as a marine fuel emits more than 120% more lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions than marine diesel,” he stated.

In phrases of warming results, methane is 80 instances worse over 20 years than carbon dioxide, making lowering such emissions important to curbing world temperature warming.

Cruise ships like Icon of the Seas use low-pressure, dual-fuel engines that launch methane into the environment throughout the combustion course of, often called “methane slip,” in keeping with trade consultants. There are two different engines used on bulk carriers or container ships that emit much less methane however are too excessive to suit on a cruise ship.

Royal Caribbean says its new ship is 24% extra carbon environment friendly than required by the worldwide transport regulator, the International Maritime Organization (IMO).

LNG emits fewer greenhouse gases than the very low-sulfur gasoline oil (VLSFO) that powers many of the world transport fleet, stated Steve Esau, chief working officer of Sea-LNG, an trade advocacy group.

Cruise engines convert pure fuel into power in a cylinder, the place it’s “essential to guarantee that all of the pure fuel is transformed into power,” stated Juha Kytölä, director of analysis and improvement and engineering at Wärtsilä, which developed the engines of the cruise ship.

What will not be transformed can escape throughout the combustion course of into the environment, he stated, including that Wärtsilä’s pure fuel engine know-how emits 90% much less methane than 20-30 years in the past.

According to 2024 analysis funded by ICCT and different companions, cruise ship engines have an estimated common methane leak of 6.4%. IMO assumes methane loss at 3.5%.

“Methane is coming under more scrutiny,” stated Anna Barford, a Canadian transport activist at Stand Earth, a non-profit group, noting that the IMO final summer season stated its efforts to scale back greenhouse gases in addition they embody the combat in opposition to methane emissions.

According to the Cruise Line International Association, of the 54 ships ordered from January 2024 to December 2028, 63% are anticipated to be powered by LNG. Currently, roughly 6% of the 300 cruise ships at sea are powered by LNG.

Newer cruise ships have been designed to run on conventional marine diesel, LNG, or alternate options corresponding to bio-LNG that account for less than a fraction of U.S. gasoline consumption.

Royal Caribbean will use completely different fuels because the market evolves, stated Nick Rose, the corporate’s vp for environmental, social and governance.

“LNG is a part of our current strategy,” he stated.

(Reporting by Doyinsola Oladipo in New York; Editing by Mark Porter)

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