18th August 2019
'Symphony of the Seas'
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Barcelona, Palma, Valencia: worst in EU for cruise ship pollution

Barcelona is the European city that receives the most pollution from large cruise ships in Europe, according to a study of 50 of the most contaminated port cities on the continent from the NGO Transport & Environment, based in Brussels.

Palma de Mallorca was second, and Valencia third.

The pollution comes in the form of sulfur oxide and nitrogen oxide, two of the biggest pollutants that come from large cruise ships. Barcelona topped the list of cities for contamination of both harmful gases.

The study shows how big a tourist destination Barcelona is, but it also points out the ‘less stringent regulations on the limitation’ of highly polluting fuels for cruise ships.

The report also warned that Carnival Corporation, the largest cruise operator in the world, polluted more sulfur dioxide emissions than all cars in Europe in 2017.

'Symphony of the Seas'
The cruise ship ‘Symphony of the Seas’ in Barcelona port in April 2018 (Nazaret Romero / via ACN)

In Barcelona, the Transport & Environment report explained that the cruise ships emitted between 2-5 times more polluted gases than passenger cars did in 2017.

They estimate that 105 large tourist ships arrived in the port of Barcelona in that year, which indicates more pollution than the capacity of the 550,000 private vehicles registered in the city.

Despite more ships docking in Lisbon, the cruise ships stayed in Barcelona for more hours in total, meaning more contamination.

The Transport & Environment NGO proposes ‘decarbonizing’ the ships, offering the example of a connection to the groundwater network, or by using hydrogen technology to power the cruise ships.

‘It is necessary for governments to intervene with a mandate that will lead the shipping industry to zero emission standards,’ they say.

Palma de Mallorca has the second highest level of contaminants caused by cruise ship emissions in Europe, the report stated, with Valencia third, followed by Civitavecchia (Rome) and then Southampton.

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