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Is the Port of Funchal the Most Polluted in Europe

An analysis by sustainable transport group Transport & Environment reveals that Carnival Corporation, the world’s largest luxury cruise operator, emitted nearly 10 times more sulfur oxides (SOX) in European seas than all 260 million European cars in 2017.

“In 2021 and 2022, the European Environment Agency carried out a thorough monitoring of air quality in the city of Funchal, taking into account the potential polluting foci of the Port of Funchal. The conclusion reached, is that the air quality is within European safety limits.” Said Miguel Albuquerque, noting the contradictions between the two institutions.

Albuquerque also said that the fact that there are more ships in Funchal does not mean that there is more pollution. The statements were made today, in the auditorium of the Campo da Barca building, on the sidelines of the delivery of financial support to 26 families, under the PRID – Programme for the Recovery of Degraded Properties.

It should be noted that Zero presented a study that reveals that the ports of Lisbon and Funchal are in the “top 10” of the port infrastructures in Europe with the highest levels of pollution associated with cruise ships.

Wading in on the argument, PAN (People-Animals-Nature Party) has proposed five pollution limiting ideas to ensure that the port of Funchal remains environmentally sound.

Joaquim José Sousa, PAN spokesperson was today talking to shoppers and residents of Funchal about ways in which to mitigate the harmful effects of pollution created by cruise ships.

In a press statement, the party said this:

“A significant number of Funchalenses were amazed by the results of the study of the Zero Environmentalist Association, mainly because the Regional Secretary for the Environment, Susana Prada recently revealed data confirming that the environmental quality in Madeira was the best in Portugal.

Others, they say, have lambasted the party for wanting to reduce the number of cruise ships docking in Funchal harbour, stating that without cruise liner passengers, establishments located in downtown Funchal: the cable car, the Monte toboggans, and tour drivers would be ruined by the move.  This said the PAN spokesperson was not what they meant, they don’t advocate the banning of all ships but just limiting the number so that Madeira remains a sustainable destination and not a barren unbreathable landscape given over to profit and commercialism.

Their ideas are to:

1º – Limit the number of cruise ships that can dock annually in the port of Funchal, based on a study to be carried out in partnership with academia and environmental non-governmental organisations within a maximum period of 6 months;

2º – As in Venice, prevent or severely limit the berthing of cruise ships weighing 1,000 tons or more;

3º – From January 2024 allow only cruise ships that use technologies to reduce emissions of nitrogen oxides, sulfur oxides, and inhalable particles to enter the port of Funchal, creating incentives for cruises equipped with polluting reducing systems and that use “clean” fuels;

4º – Creation of a fund for emitted carbon whose revenues come from a tax applicable to ship owners, according to the polluted-pays principle, and whose revenues revert to the decarbonisation of maritime transport;

5º – Prohibit that the moored ships keep the engines running, and the electricity supply must come from the port of Funchal”

According to information released by sustainable transport group Transport & Environment, the amount of Sulphur Dioxide emitted by the Carnival Corporation, the world’s largest luxury cruise operator, was in 2017, ten times greater than the amount emitted by 260 million European cars.

Samantha Gannon

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