While the new sulfur content standards that will come into effect in 2020 aim to clean up ship fuel, Carnival is doubling down on “emissions cheat systems,” i.e. SOx scrubbers (also called Exhaust Gas Cleaning Systems — EGCS) so it can keep burning dirt-cheap, ultra-dirty heavy fuel oil. Carnival has been touting its scrubbers as evidence of their concern for human and environmental health. They have even gone so far as to claim that these are “better” than a cleaner burning fuel, marine gas oil. The language is perplexingly vague, and the company has yet to provide any evidence to back up these claims.
The cruise industry trade organization, Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) has also pushed to preserve a provision in the International Maritime Organization regulations that allow ships keep burning high-sulfur, heavy fuel oil if the vessels have scrubbers installed. Carnival has also confirmed that the scrubbers it is installing on its ships are open-loop, which means some types of pollution are being removed from the air emissions and can instead be discharged into the ocean. Carnival is the largest dues-paying member of CLIA, with over 40% of the global cruise market share.