Indigenous Peoples of the Arctic ask Carnival to ditch heavy fuel oil

Learn more about the Arctic Indigenous leaders and Arctic nations pushing for an end to heavy fuel oil use in their region


Carnival Corporation dismissed calls for it to end its use of heavy fuel oil, including in the Arctic and Subarctic, as “misguided.” On October 24th, at Carnival’s UK HQ, Arctic Indigenous leadership and Clean Up Carnival coalition members met with company executives to deliver an international petition, signed by 104,000 people worldwide, calling for the company to stop burning heavy fuel oil in Carnival’s global fleet, starting with the fragile and imperiled Arctic and Subarctic regions.

These were not lone voices. In July, the Inuit Circumpolar Council – representing Indigenous Peoples in Alaska, Canada, Greenland, and Chukotka (Russia) passed the Utqiaġvik Declaration (pg. 4) which included a directive to phase out heavy fuel oil in the Arctic. In October, the Alaska Federation of Natives also passed a formal resolution calling for a phaseout of heavy fuel oil in their region.

Their concerns have been echoed by many countries at the UN International Maritime Organization (IMO), including all of the top Arctic and Subarctic destinations for Carnival-owned ships. In April 2018, at the 72nd Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) of the IMO, the Arctic states of Finland, Iceland, Sweden, Norway and the United States, along with Germany, the Netherlands and New Zealand, proposed a ban on the use and carriage for use of heavy fuel oil by ships operating in the Arctic. The proposal, along with a proposal to assess the impact of such a ban on Arctic communities from Canada, was supported by Australia, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, France, Ireland, Japan, the League of Arab States, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Switzerland, and the UK leading to an agreement to move forward with the ban. Support from Denmark was particularly notable as it is the sixth Arctic nation to support the ban. In September, Greenland announced that it would add its support for a ban.

At MEPC 73 in October 2018, support for commencing work to mitigate the risks of using and carrying HFO fuel in the Arctic, which includes developing a ban, at the PPR6 technical meeting in February 2019, was voiced by Austria, Bangladesh, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Spain, Poland, and the UK.

Alaska, Greenland (Denmark), Norway, Finland, and Iceland are all among the most popular Arctic and Subarctic destinations for Carnival-owned ships. Carnival brands offering trips to the Arctic and Subarctic include Holland America Line, Princess Cruises, Carnival Cruise Line, Seabourn, P&O Cruises (UK), Cunard, and Aida.

Carnival has claimed that it is already treating the Arctic as a ‘specially protected area’ because it “only” sends ships there burning heavy fuel oil if the ships have SOx scrubbers installed. Not only do these scrubbers present water pollution issues, but this equipment does nothing to address spill risk. According to the best available public data, EGCS also do not deliver anything close to the pollution reductions possible with cleaner fuel and filtration.

The only appropriate response that respects the will of the people who have called the Arctic and Subarctic home for tens of thousands of years is to stop sending ships to these regions fueled with heavy fuel oil.

Heavy fuel oil use is already banned in the Antarctic due to the significantly greater risks its use presents as compared to other cleaner fuels.

Are Carnival’s Exhaust Gas Cleaning Systems (EGCS) a solution to their pollution? Learn More.