"Green corridor" for cruise ships may extend to Haines


May 26, 2022

Last week a group of government officials and industry representatives announced plans to move toward creating the world’s first “green corridor” for cruise ships, which would stretch from Seattle to Southeast Alaska.

The goal would be to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 in an effort to mitigate global climate change.

Skagway and Juneau signed onto the effort, and local resident Sue Libenson told the Haines Borough Assembly on Tuesday that the Port of Seattle invited Haines to join too.

The first step for collaborators is to produce a feasibility study. Eventually, the effort could include building green port infrastructure and shifting to renewable energies.

“The idea is that the shipping industry, including the cruise ship industry, sees change coming for fuels and electrification and eventually getting to net-zero emissions,” Libenson said. “It’s exciting that we are on one of these early corridors.”

Last year at COP26 — the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference — 24 countries including the U.S. and Canada signed a declaration to establish at least six green, or net-zero emissions, shipping corridors by 2050 as part of an effort to mitigate global climate change. The one in the Pacific Northwest would be the first specifically for cruise ships.

“The collaborative effort is aimed at exploring the feasibility of a green corridor that could accelerate the deployment of zero greenhouse gas emission ships and operations between Alaska, British Columbia, and Washington,” reads a Port of Seattle press release. “Nearly 300 ships leave Seattle for Alaska in a six-month cruise season; in total Alaska hosts more than 600 cruise sailings per year.”

Trade group Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) and the major cruise lines that sail to the upper Lynn Canal — Carnival, Royal Caribbean and Norwegian — have all voiced support for the effort, as stated in a Port of Seattle press release.

According to the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report, “rapid and deep” reductions in greenhouse gas emissions are needed by 2025 to avoid severe and widespread effects of climate change, including heat waves, droughts and extreme weather.

Haines Mayor Douglas Olerud said he has spoken with Senator Lisa Murkowski’s office about the green corridor effort.

“(It) might be an opportunity not only for Haines to participate but that might help fast-track further hydro development in Haines…and might be something that would allow us to get off diesel for our current electrical needs in the winter time,” Olerud said.


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