All current and future activities must be changed or modified to limit expected damage

*By Jesper Goodley Dannisoee

Caribbean nations are facing a not-so-far future in which the impacts of Climate Change may alter societies in a way we have never seen before, in ways that we still do not know how to manage. Accordingly, all current and future activities must be changed or modified so as to limit the expected damage.

Cruise industry, an economic pillar, but…

The cruise industry has been and still is one of the main economic subsectors in many Caribbean states. It brings business to the countries, but it also comes with a cost which might be higher than it appears at first glance.

Almost all vessels are driven by fossil fuel and will therefore contribute to the volume of CO2 emissions generated locally and on a global scale. Current propulsion systems are generally not yet adapted to run on electrical energy and this will most probably remain our reality for many years to come. On the open sea, ship emissions will not directly affect Caribbean countries. However, during the mooring period, ship emissions will add to local emissions, adding not only CO2, but other exhaust-based substances.

Cruise ship in Curacao

In port or when moored or anchored, the ship still has electricity requirements that may even surpass the total electrical needs of the destination country. This is problematic since establishing a land-based electricity system will potentially just move the emission to a local oil or coal-driven power plant unless Caribbean governments are prepared and able to invest in solar and/or wind power systems.

And who will suffer the consequences of Climate Change Sea Level Rise, atmospheric temperature increases and changes in precipitation and storms? The vulnerable peoples of the Caribbean who are left to shoulder costs far greater than the income from the cruise industry.

The commercial power of the cruise industry is immense. If one port puts up restrictions on carbon capture and sequestration systems, together with scrubber systems on the vessels, the cruise line could simply find another destination with less restrictions, which would lead to a substantial reduction in local income. Caribbean nations should consider cooperation in developing a joint regional strategy for the cruise industry; a strategy for the near and distant future. If the strategy was jointly adopted and presented as a Caribbean imperative, the cruise industry would be pushed towards “greener thinking” and accordingly make investments to achieve greener goals in record time.

A green approach to HRD

The biggest asset a port has is its human resources. And it should be obvious that the future development of the port, any port, depends on the effectiveness of skilled staff.

Since any future port development, physical or in operations, must be as green as possible, it makes sense to ensure that all training, on the job or academic, apply a green approach. But what does this mean? In principle, it means that all education courses and training initiatives must adopt an approach based on “green” sciences.

A future with significantly reduced human impact on the environment begins at the level of individuals – you and me. The green transition only makes sense if, individually, we fully understand what it is and how every action we take has a consequence for the future. It will require that all individuals and institutions delivering education and human development courses focus on bringing people to understand the issues and consequences, thus enabling every individual to make or contribute to decisions that lead to meaningful change.

  • Can you replace work clothes made of an oil-based fabric (e.g., nylon, polyester) with clothes made of natural fibres (cotton, linen, bamboo), and make sure that your supplier will take the used clothes back and will ensure that the fibres are recycled?
  • Can all waste from the port be sorted to be reused/recycled?
  • Can the port demand that all suppliers adhere to international sustainability standards and set those standards as the criteria for delivering services and goods to your port?

If these changes are hard to implement then port managers should request training suppliers to deliver course content that will enable you and your staff to start thinking and acting “green”. You are as responsible as everyone else to take all the steps necessary to limit or reduce the impacts of Climate Change on you, your family and the entire port community.

Legislation – a green approach

Have you heard this before: ‘If we had legislation to support us, we could go much greener.’

It is not uncommon for government and legislation to be far behind what is now needed to aggressively address Climate Change. Usually, legislation is not changed overnight. In Denmark where I live, we have had legislation that prevented us from using excess heat produced from cooling because the legislation demanded high taxes on the heat.

So, what happened?

The heat was simply released into the atmosphere, making only the birds happy. Now a new green approach has made it possible for us to utilize excess heat, thereby reducing the need for generating additional heat.

So, do you have legislation in your country that supports green initiatives and helps to reduce the negative impacts of Climate Change? If not, now may be the right time to review and rethink your country’s legislation so that they provide the necessary authority  and systems to allow your port to become sustainable. There are Caribbean territories that set limits on how the government can support the green transition, so you may have to look for alternative financial sources to support making your port greener.

Cruise tourists in Belize

Tourist-taxes are common in Europe and it may just be as little as US$2 per person or less. If the tax is declared as dedicated to financing a “green” transition,  I find it hard to believe that tourists will seek to abandon your destination for a tax-free port. In any case, a cooperation agreement between all the Caribbean cruise destinations, as proposed above, would protect the cruise business in each territory.

A “tourist-tax” could provide an effective means  of helping regional ports to finance an aggressive strategy to limit the expected damage from Climate Change, much of which we are already experiencing in its early stages.

Regardless of your country’s approach and the systems being employed nationally to address Climate Change, the green transition starts with you, whether you like it or not. —[]

  • First published December 1, 2023
Jesper Dannisoee

*Jesper Goodley Dannisoee, Senior Project Manager at DHI, Denmark, works globally on effects of climate change and environmental issues.

#ClimateChange #CaribbeanEnvironment #CaribbeanCruise #SeaLevelRise #CaribbeanCooperation