In the port of Marseille, sailors sing and cruise ships smoke. Mayor (Printemps marseillais, left) Benoit Payan has launched a crusade against the giants of the seas, which he says “dirty [et] to spit their smoke on our shores with impunity.” On July 21, he published a petition calling for the banning of the most polluting boats from the port of Marseille on days when pollution is at its peak. It has since collected 48,000 signatures. Faced with a rebuke from the municipality, Erminio Escena, president of CLIA France, the international association of travel companies, wants to play catch-up and recalls the industry’s already compromised efforts.
LE FIGARO. – How did you welcome the signature collection initiated by the mayor of Marseille on July 19?
Erminio ESCHENA. – This initiative surprised us, because it was not the result of a preliminary consultation neither with us, nor with the port authorities, the region or the state. This does not provide an opportunity to consolidate the common vision and support the efforts already made. CLIA’s job is to maintain ongoing consultation with government agencies. This is, for example, what allowed the creation of the ECA zone (Emissions Control Area, Editor’s Note), which will enter into force in 2025 to regulate polluting emissions in the Mediterranean Sea.
The mayor calls for a ban on the most polluting cruise ships at peak pollution. Is it feasible?
The industry is already working to meet the environmental goals set in consultation with government authorities and the International Maritime Organization. Furthermore, the number of cruise ship stops in Marseille must be considered. Cruise ships account for less than 5% of recorded stops; The port of Marseille announces 9,000 calls per year for all types of ships, while in 2019 there were about 440 cruise calls.
So why is the anger of Marseilles focused on cruise ships?
Perhaps because they are easier to identify. One can also think that they are less important because they are in the realm of recreation. It all depends on the model of society you want. Society today is built around leisure, and Westerners have a fundamental right to vacation. Of course, tourism can develop. And the cruise clearly demonstrates its ability to adapt.
Can’t we do more?
The efforts made already make it possible to go faster and in a different way. For example, about electrification. Boat owners decided to equip their boats with equipment to receive electricity at the dock, although many marinas were not yet equipped for this. The municipality of Marseille has also announced that it will invest 10 million euros in the installation of such equipment in its port as part of the “Escales zero smoke” project, and we are happy about that. But all this is only temporary. There will be other innovations, other technologies that will continue to improve boats. Several projects are already in development: sailboats, fuel cells, improved on-board recycling, liquefied natural gas… Of course, we need to go even faster. We still need to go in a common and accessible direction. Otherwise, we stay in the declarative.
Beyond the battle of the numbers, I believe that systematically looking for a bad student is not the best way to promote transition.
Erminio Eschena, President of CLIA France
Do boats pollute? “one million cars»as the mayor says.
This statement has no scientific basis and does not correspond to the data provided by NGOs. However, it did have an effect… Beyond the fighting of the figures, I believe that systematically looking for a bad student is not the most appropriate way to promote the transition.
How can we best support this transition?
Sitting around the table, setting the context, agreeing on the goal and identifying the means to achieve it is what will allow us to achieve it together. We are doing it today with the state and the region, and we are fully prepared to do it with the municipality of Marseille. There is no dialogue at this time. More precisely, there is a dialogue of the deaf. But no matter how it’s initiated, you should take the opportunity and exchange.
Do you think green cruises will one day be possible?
It all depends on what you mean by “green”. All human activities affect. It is up to us to ensure that this activity is increasingly virtuous.
Cruises have limited economic impact on the area. As stated by Laurent Lhardit, Deputy Tourism Minister of Marseille?
Studies conducted in Marseille show that the economic impact is significant and trickles down throughout the area. We know that one in two cruise passengers return to an area they visited later on their cruise to enjoy it longer. We allow tourists to taste the area. It is then up to the local tourism actors to make sure that those tourists feel comfortable there. Cruise can’t do it alone. We must work together so that the reception of tourists goes as smoothly as possible.
Source: Le Figaro