Commercial cruise lines are some of the world's worst polluters, and Carnival is near the top of that list according to a study of European cruise line operators. Research found that Carnival alone is responsible for almost 10 times as much sulfur dioxide release as all 260 million of Europe's cars combined.
The study from Transport & Environment says that the 203 cruise ships that operated in European waters in 2017 emitted a combined total of 62 kilotons of sulfur oxides (SOx), which form airborne gases known to cause lung cancer and acid rain. During the same period, Europe's 260 million known registered vehicles let out just 3.2 kilotons, the study found. Of these 62 kilotons of SOx, more than half allegedly were the product of the 47 ships operated by Carnival Cruise Lines or its subsidiaries.
Of the 20 worst offenders, seven are Carnival properties, which together made up half of the industry's SOx emissions in Europe. Carnival denied any wrongdoing when asked for comment by Fast Company, pointed the finger at the rest of the maritime transportation industry, and insinuated that the study's methodology was unscientific.
This statement arrived days after Carnival agreed to a $20 million fine and undergo increased scrutiny of its plastic and sewage disposal practices, which included dumping both directly into the ocean in large quantities. Carnival allegedly tried to hide these activities from regulators by falsifying records or pressuring the United States Coast Guard to relax the terms of its environmental compliance agreement.
Despite automobiles releasing a significantly smaller proportion of harmful emissions than cruise ships, European regulators are taking to the law books to reduce the environmental impact of all transportation. Last month, Amsterdam codified a plan to ban combustion-powered vehicles from its streets by the end of the 2020s, joining a growing list of European cities to do so.
Even so, with cars releasing so little in the way of pollutants compared to larger forms of travel, it means you don't have to feel guilty about enjoying the wastefulness that is motorsport...Unless you're letting your racing sanitize the image of one of the world's foulest countries.