Hong Kong is working hard to build the cruise ship market in the city, but not everyone is excited over the developments. Many of the city’s residents and environmental authorities are worried that bringing in more ships to the city will negatively impact the amount of air pollution. But as the city gets ready to welcome a new cruise terminal, it’s hard to say whether the industry or the environment will be the top priority for Hong Kong officials.
Many of the activists are urging the government to take measures to reduce the harmful effects that many of the larger vessels can bring with them and have suggested installing electricity outlets for vessels to plug into when berthed. However, cruise operators believe this is an unrealistic demand, and older ships are not equipped to operate on shore power.
As the fight between the cruise industry and environmental leaders continues, the facts cannot be ignored. Berthed ships release emissions that contribute to pollution wherever they go, so much so that these emissions are the No. 1 contributor to Hong Kong’s air pollution problem and account for 40 percent of greenhouse gases within the city’s borders. This has been an ongoing problem for several years, and activists are finally putting their foot down and asking for change.
“For the last 10 years, the government has done nothing to improve this,” said Melonie Chau, senior environmental affairs officer at Friends of the Earth in Hong Kong. “The government should do more to encourage or give more incentive or administrative measures to push the industry to help Hong Kong be a green port,” Chau said.
Although some smaller ships have begun to address the problem by looking into switching to low-sulfur diesel while berthed, not all cruise lines are apt to make changes. Hong Kong’s new cruise ship terminal, which is slated to open later this year, will have the option of shore power, but cruise line authorities are not keen on the idea of being required to use shore power.
Switching to shore power would require extensive changes to older vessels and at this moment the industry isn’t too keen on spending the money to make those changes. But as the cruise industry expands in Asia, something will needs to be done to protect the environment from the harmful emissions of these vessels.
In Hong Kong, the emissions pose a huge threat to the population. The city’s smog and air pollution contributes to 1,200 deaths per year. And since the city is also one of the busiest ports in the world, the more the cruise industry expands, the greater the risk to residents.
The cruise accident lawyers at Lipcon, Margulies, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A. have seen our fair share of industry battles. Line operators rarely want to take responsibility for accidents and injuries that passengers and crewmembers sustain, let alone liability for the destruction of the environment.
However, as ships continue to get larger, their imprint on the environment cannot be ignored. Sooner or later, something will have to be done to reduce the pollution caused by cruise lines and to promote safety in the industry not just for passengers and crew members, but for residents of the ports these ships visit and the marine life surrounding them.
Hong Kong Cruise Ship Terminal – maritime.mottmac.com
Air Pollution Activists – planetearthherald.com