Cruise Ship expansion bad news for Energy & Climate.

MEDIA RELEASE – October 31, 2008

Martin Ferguson, Minister for Resources and Energy and Tourism


The Minister for Tourism, Martin Ferguson AM MP, welcomes the decision of P&O Cruises to double its fleet over the next two years and says the move demonstrates the growing strength and importance of Australia’s cruise sector. Minister Ferguson said:

“The cruise shipping industry plays an important role in broadening the tourism experiences offered to Australian travellers and it is very pleasing to see it growing so significantly.

“Interest in cruising is increasing and the continued expansion in the cruise ship industry adds to the resilience and responsiveness of Australia’s tourism industry. Moreover, this decision by P&O also confirms Australia’s position as a world-leading destination for travellers of all ages.

Martin may well make this claim as Tourism Minister but what does he have to say when the other phone rings? The Australian Transport Task rates Cruise Ships and Ferries as least efficient in the transport efficiency stakes, so why is such profound support for energy waste coming from a Cabinet Minister also charged with the responsibility of managing Australia’s energy future? If we are to see such continued policy perversity it would be timely to also see a media release countering all past concern and statements regarding climate change and Australia’s desire to contain carbon emissions.

Martin Ferguson, Minister for Resources and Energy (and Tourism) demonstrates the perverse nature of his own tasks, throwing support behind an Industry that is a major contributor to green house emissions and pollution. What does this say about this governments commitment to Climate Change Reform and Emissions Trading, and does this re-define the role of Energy Minister as sales agent and bidder for the oil industry? While trains and buses, strategic fuel policy and urban planning are the actual rhealm of energy reform, stated support for extravagant use and waste of energy could send an alarming message to Australians otherwise concerned about this country’s global energy footprint and the hollow rhetoric we are seeing by yet another government.

Josh Briggs writes on the issues stemming from the industry:

A floating resort packed with thousands of tourists and staff is bound to run into some trouble. The cruise industry has drawn the ire of many public health and environmental critics, not to mention law enforcement and legislators. Let’s start with the environmental criticism first.

As you may expect, cruise ships generate several forms of pollution as they lumber through the seas.

  • Black water: Wastewater comprising human waste.
  • Gray water: Wastewater that comes from showers, dishwashers, sinks and other cleaning activities onboard a ship.
  • Bilge water: Water from the ship’s bilge tank that contains engine oil and sludge.
  • Solid waste: Trash consisting of plastic and metal containers, usually ends up as incinerated ashes.
  • Hazardous waste: Cleaning chemicals, paints, solvents and dry cleaning chemicals that find their way into the gray water source or the bilge tank.

An average cruise ship creates an estimated 90,000 gallons to 255,000 gallons (340,687 liters to 965,280 liters) of gray water, 30,000 gallons (113,562 liters) of black water and 37,000 gallons (140,060 liters) of bilge water daily [source: Herz]. Loose environmental requirements allow cruise ships to dump everything overboard except untreated and solid waste. Bilge water, gray water, as well as treated sewage and incinerated solid waste can be, and regularly is, dumped directly into the sea, so long as it is not within 3 miles (4.8 km) of the shore. [source: Herz, IICRC]

The Oceana resources highlight risks, not necessarily addressed by governments:

Cruise ships and other large marine vessels have diesel engines that are major sources of air pollution. One cruise ship discharges 1/5 tons of smog-forming nitrogen oxides, 1.3 tons of sulfur oxides (the equivalent of a large cement plant), 253 pounds of carbon dioxide, 100 pounds of volatile organic compounds, and 75 pounds of particulate matter. This is equivalent to the output of 12,000 automobiles. It is especially hazardous to persons with asthma and respiratory illnesses. However, emissions from cruise ship diesel engines are unregulated, except in Alaska. California enacted a law in September, 2004 that prohibits incineration by cruise ships within three miles of shore.

From these angles at least a proposal to double what is an energy intense and polluting industry, posing conundrums for Australia. Demonstration that mixed Ministerial folio’s can create mixed up results without continuity of policy between departments and no evidence within reality that past proclamations of intent regarding policy are being addressed at all; questions for concerned members of the constituency, and questions as to the current function, rigor and health of our parliamentary democracy.

Further Information:


Overview of Cruise Ship Facts, Criminal History, Regulatory Status and Threats to the Environment

Study: CO2 Output from Shipping On Same Order as That of Aviation, Could Double by 2050

Cruise Ships Worse For Environment Than Planes


Coral Reef and Cruise Ship = Conservation?

OCEANA – Cruise Ship Pollution

Sailing Smokestacks


Waste No Waste – Waste to Energy by Onboard Gasification Becomes Reality