The Grand Harbour’s air pollution is up to 200 times higher than clean air levels when ships are passing through, an analysis by BirdLife has shown. That heavily effects people’s health as well as biodiversity, the environmental NGO said.
BirdLife highlights the need for solutions to air pollution from ships, as science proves that these tiny air particles have severe health impacts, but there are currently no regulations for air particles this size.
Cruise ships come and go in Valletta, close to some of Malta’s densest urban areas. Though it might not be the first thing you think of when it comes to air pollution, these ships are a massive contribution to the bad quality of our air, threatening the climate, environment, and our health.
And this isn’t the first time concerns are raised over the emissions of cruise ships in the Grand Harbour area. Last year, a cruise liner was left to spew out toxic fumes in Cospicua.
In Malta, five deaths per week can be attributed to air pollution according to EU estimates. Research by the European Heart Journal actually doubles that number, estimating that 575 deaths per year are caused by air pollution.
And the amount of cruise ships cruising past Malta is steadily increasing, as cruise shipping movements have increased by almost 16% over the past six years. Given Malta’s small size, the impact these cruise ships have are major.
Over the years, the government has explored solutions for the massive emissions that cruise liners are responsible for, mainly because they never turn off their engines once they dock in order to operate the many on-board amenities.
One of those solutions was using shore-side power, which would allow ships to turn off their engines and plug into an electrical grid while in port.
However, as it stands no feasible solutions were put into practice yet.
On top of other air pollution caused by traffic, energy generation and industry, more toxic particles in our skies is literally the last thing we need.
Do you think air pollution should be given more importance in Malta?