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Episode 13

Luxury cruises, airlines, big corporations and Canada

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The Angry Clean Energy Guy on the (very) dirty secret of luxury cruises which are in fact just punctured garbage bins on water; on New York State’s aggressive 100% renewable energy mandate and on Canada’s parliament voting that we are in a climate emergency one day then finding it perfectly normal to approve a massive pipeline for filthy tar sands oil the very next day


Episode Transcript:

Hi and welcome to The Angry Clean Energy Guy podcast. I am The Angry Clean Energy Guy, Assaad resume, and this is episode 13. I am so happy you’re here. Thank you. This week I am going to rant about luxury cruises, about airlines, about big corporations and about Canada. Yes. Specifically Canada’s parliament. Canada’s parliament is my villain of the week because only one day, just one day after declaring a climate emergency, parliament approved the expansion of a massive pipeline that will increase oil production in Alberta and release a massive amount of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. I mean that makes no sense whatsoever, Canada. That’s actually crazy bonkers, Canada. What are you doing, Canada. 


So let’s talk about luxury cruises. But first, can we all agree that in most places in the world, when you drive above the speed limit, you pay a fine and that when you litter, you pay or should pay a fine? That makes sense, doesn’t it? And I don’t understand why that simple, logical, fair rule isn’t applied to corporations properly. Today’s example is from the cruise shipping industry. Luxury cruises specifically. Yes. Those that take you to perfect vacation spots to unplug from the chaos of everyday life without the experience of waiting in line at the airport or dragging your bags to your fifth hotel. Now I understand why people might like cruises and luxury cruises, but what I don’t understand is that just 47 cruise ships, 47 cruise ships owned by the largest cruise operator in the world, Carnival Corporation emitted 10 times more Sulfur Oxide in one year, in European waters than Europe’s 260 million cars combined.

And do you know what they paid for emitting all that poison? Nothing. Zero, Zilch. They were free to pollute. Now, Sulfur Oxide causes irritation of the nose, irritation of the throat, nausea, vomiting, stomach pain and damages airways and lungs when you breathe it. Shame on you Carnival Corporation. Now, why is it that ships are allowed to pollute freely and not pay a dime for that pollution? Why don’t we have stringent rules that stop them from doing that? I mean, it would make perfect sense for us to have these rules. Carnival Corporation, the big, bad British-American cruise operator is today the world’s largest cruise leisure company. It’s got a hundred vessels across 10 cruise line brands, and I’m sure some of you or most of you would have heard of these brands. They’re called Carnival cruise line, Holland America line, Princess cruises, Seabourn, P&O cruises, Cunard, etc.

So all these nice sounding names that want us to dream about adventure are not what they sound like. The good people at Carnival Corporation have been paying heavy fines for breaking the law since 2002 but they’ve paid far too few and only when they were caught red handed and by mistake. And that’s for breaking the law, polluting our air. By the way, polluting our lungs with Sulfur Oxide is,  amazingly, perfectly legal. You don’t pay a fine for that. They’ve paid a fine for other stuff. In 2016 they’ve paid a $40 million penalty for illegally dumping oil-contaminated waste into the sea and then trying to cover it up. So the $40 million fine that Carnival Corporation paid in 2016 was the largest criminal penalty ever imposed for intentional pollution by vessel. Now you would think that stopped Carnival Corporation, but it did not. This year, it’s ordered to pay an additional $20 million for violating its probation terms, which means for doing what it did before again, and that’s illegally dumping oil-contaminated waste into the sea and then covering it up. 

Now let’s come back to the Sulfur Oxide that I referred to before. Shipping is the least regulated transport sector as regards air pollution. They use fuel which is 100 times worse than diesel, which itself is horrible. And as a result, they emit a staggering amount of poison. And then that makes it into our lungs.

Now, shipping is a very important industry because 90% of world trade is carried across the world’s oceans by 90,000 marine vessels. So every day the stuff that fill the shelves in the shopping centers arrive there as if by magic via the shipping fleet.  Nine out of 10 items shipped halfway around the world are shipped on boats. And these are the biggest and dirtiest machines on the planet. Just one container ship can produce over its lifetime the same amount of pollution as 50 million cars, which means just 15 big mega-container ships match in terms of pollution all the cars in the world, all of them. Now the pollution occurs far out at sea, so it’s out of sight, it’s out of mind and out of reach of any government because the industry does not self-respect itself. It’s trying to cut corners and save money at every opportunity. Not only do they use the dirtiest possible fuel to power the ships, they also dump their waste water. They dump their plastic, they dump their trash, they dump their excess oil. I mean, they are just terrible. The bunker fuel that they use, which is the leftover at the end of the refining process, is an environmental nightmare. It’s heavy, it’s toxic, it doesn’t evaporate and it emits more poison than other fuels. It’s also poisonous by the way, to fish and isn’t much good for seabirds or as you just heard for humans living near ports. 

Now the industry is regulated by the International Maritime Organization and I’m using regulated because I have a sense of humor. Clearly, the International Maritime Organization or IMO isn’t doing anything much at all. They are a bunch of incompetent regulators. They have not managed to negotiate a reduction in emission from the industry and they have no teeth to stop these 90,000 vessels from polluting at will and dumping their trash in the oceans. Airlines, by the way, talking about the transport sector, are not much better because they get their jet fuel tax free and they are allowed to use the skies as a public sewer at no cost, zero, just like ships that are allowed to use the oceans as a public sewer at no cost.

How fair is that? If we citizens litter, we pay a fine. Ships and airlines should be paying huge fines for what they’re doing. Why is it that the citizen is always asked to be fair to other citizens, but corporations can do what they just like? They are killing us, people. Corporations, big bad corporations are killing us and on the subject of corporations you should know that they’re all mostly bad. It’s not just cruise companies and airlines. 

There is a recent report that accused more than 700 companies including Amazon and of course Exxon Mobil of failing to reveal the full extent of their impact on the climate crisis, on water shortages and on deforestation. In other words, they are hiding their actions and they are lying. They pretend to report their environmental impact in their own sustainability reports, but that is completely insufficient because their reports don’t use standardized data and you can’t read them so you don’t actually know what they’re doing. They’re trying to look good while acting bad. That’s exactly what they’re trying to do and it’s called double speak. It’s called having a forked tongue. It’s called lying. That list by the way of 707 companies includes of course all of the Big Oil and Big Gas companies such as BP and Exxon Mobil and Chevron, but it also includes palm oil giants like Genting plantations and UK high street brands including Tesco, Ocado, WH Smith, Marks and Spencer and many, many others.

47 luxury cruise ships emit, in European waters, more poison than all of Europe’s 260 million cars. 15 mega containerships emit over their lifetime more warming gas then all the cars in the world and ships and aircraft are using the oceans and skies as public sewers with their regulators doing absolutely nothing, actually less than nothing about it. And behind these two sectors, more than 700 companies were accused again of failing to reveal the full extent of their impact on the climate crisis, of hiding their impact on the climate crisis, on shortages of water and on deforestation. Remember as I described in more detail in episode 11 of The Angry Clean Energy Guy, just 90 companies are responsible for two thirds of the harmful warming gas generated since the industrial age began and all of them are oil, gas, coal, or cement companies. 90 companies are frying the planet. And the largest 3000 companies by market capitalization cause $2 trillion of environmental damage per year, $2 trillion of environmental damage per year. So it is absolutely unacceptable that citizens are always asked to be fair to other citizens and pay their dues when corporations get away with it. The entire system is rigged in favor of big corporations and this is costing us our health, our environment, and we’re frying the planet while we’re at it. That needs to change.

Thank you so much for listening to me, The Angry Clean Energy Guy, this far. 

My hero of the week is Governor Cuomo of New York State. Why? Because New York State, with a population of 20 million, is passing an aggressive 100% renewable energy mandate. They, New York State, are going to go 70% renewable by 2030, 100% zero carbon by 2040. That is another incontrovertible evidence that we can do it. We can transition to 100% renewable energy. California New York are showing the way and every US state and city and every country and city in the entire world should follow suit. Renewables are cheaper, they’re healthier and they don’t kill us. 

My villain of the week is Canada’s parliament because only one day after declaring a climate emergency, which you would have imagined that they are taking seriously since they’re declaring it, so just one day after declaring a climate emergency, they approve the expansion of a massive pipeline that will increase oil production in Alberta, release more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere and export some of the dirtiest oil on the planet. 

Thank you for listening. Don’t hesitate, send my way any questions you have about clean energy, climate change, or whatever else you like. And stuff in the green space that makes you angry is also always very welcome. I am working very hard on my website, theangrycleanenergy that should go live in about a week and it will have in it transcripts of all the episodes. On that note, have a great week.

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About Me

There is so much to be angry about, if you are a clean energy guy.

Every day, so many things that happen around the world make me angry when I look at them with lenses colored by the climate change chaos unfolding everywhere around us. And I am especially angry because I know we can solve the climate change crisis if we were only trying.

Each week, I will share with you a few topics that struck me and that I was very angry about – and this will generally have to do with climate change, solar or wind power, plastic pollution, environmental degradation, wildlife, the oceans and other related topics.

Assaad Razzouk

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