Not the Love Boat - Connecting respiratory health with the shipping industry and toxic fuel
Not the Love Boat - Connecting respiratory health with the shipping industry and toxic fuel
Thursday April 25, 2019

Exempted from the Paris Agreement, the shipping industry is one of the fastest growing sources of climate pollution on the planet. Current projections indicate that the shipping sector will reach 17% of total global greenhouse gas totals by 2050 if it remains unregulated and fails to address this issue voluntarily. Today the sector is responsible for approximately 3% of global emissions, which are compounded by its use of heavy fuel oil-fuel and the resulting production of super-pollutants like black carbon.
Is there a human health concern in addition to the climate impacts of burning heavy fuel oil, one of the dirtiest fossil fuels? In January 2019,, in collaboration with Johns Hopkins University professor Dr. Ryan Kennedy, released the results of a 2-year undercover air testing study on board four Carnival Corporation cruise ships. The investigation revealed that air quality on cruise ships can be worse than some of the world’s most polluted cities including Beijing, China and Santiago, Chile, earning media attention from CNN, US News & World Report, The Daily Mail in the UK, among dozens of other outlets.
Approximately 70% of ship emissions occur within 250 miles of land and can travel far inland. This means that millions of unsuspecting people are potentially being exposed to dangerous air pollution levels from ship exhaust, raising serious health concerns for coastal cities and port communities. In fact, studies have attributed over 60,000 premature deaths to ship exhaust exposures. 

On Wednesday, April 24th, 2019, the Environmental Grantmakers Association, Health and Environmental Funders Network, Pisces Foundation, and the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation hosted a webcast briefing for funders to hear from the lead campaign organizations working on this issue and learn how this new information can create a nexus for climate action connecting threats to respiratory health in port communities and vessel passengers with cruise line industry's use of one of the world’s most toxic and climate change accelerating fuels.

Please watch this webcast here, and see below for a written summary of content. 

Not the Love Boat - Connecting respiratory health with the shipping industry and toxic fuel.

Not the Love Boat
Connecting respiratory health with the shipping industry and toxic fuel
April 24, 2019, 11:00 am PST

MINUTE 02:10  | WELCOME & CONTEXT: MARY TURNIPSEED, Program Officer with the Marine Conservation Initiative at the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation introduces the threat of Heavy Fuel Oil and air pollution on vulnerable communities and ecosystems. Mary talks briefly about the goals of this webinar to share knowledge of the importance of addressing shipping greenhouse gas emissions and how foundations can get involved. 
(5 Minutes) 

MINUTE 06:36 | LOCAL IMPACTS: DR. BAKEYAH NELSON, Executive Director Air Alliance Houston, talks about the work of Air Alliance Houston with regard to research, education, and advocacy, as well as the regionality of air quality issues and the severity of health impacts on portside communities (notably along the Houston Ship Channel). In addition to sharing her take on the necessity of new clean air strategies, Bakeyah shares some detail on the increased severe health and environmental impacts to coastal and inland communities in Texas with the planned expansion of the shipping industry. 
(4 minutes)

MINUTE 10:25 |  CAMPAIGNING & ACTION: KENDRA ULRICH, Senior Shipping Campaigner at talks about the connections between Dr. Nelson’s work and’s work primarily in the Arctic. Kendra outlines Stand’s focus on Carnival Corporation (the largest actor in the global cruise sector) and the health impacts of the combustion of heavy fuel oil and ship exhaust air pollution to global communities. In addition to work with the International Maritime Organization, she describes the Clean Up Carnival Coalition and the impetus for groundbreaking research with Dr. Ryan Kennedy regarding onboard ship pollution and its long term impacts. Kendra ends on the call to Carnival to become a leader in emissions reduction as well as future research directions. 
(5 minutes)

MINUTE 14:52 | RESEARCH: DR RYAN KENNEDY, Assistant Professor at the John Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health describes his background in air particulate research before diving into his research experience researching pollutants on cruise ship decks and in port communities. He delves into detail on the study’s design (minute 15:57) and how the results are informing and changing the work to eliminate pollution in these spaces. 
(8 minutes)

MINUTE 23:00 | A CALL TO ACTION: TODD PAGLIA, Executive Director of, explains that we are on the verge of a new era of air testing and that poor air quality is one of the leading causes of health issues worldwide.  However, this sobering fact paired with the portability of air quality testing technology is encouraging. The shipping industry has been unregulated and disproportionately contributing to this pollution, and Todd outlines the goal of collaboration between research groups and corporate campaign groups momentum to bring about real change and transparency within these industries and for worldwide human and environmental health. He ends with a call to action to dwarf current actions with bold moves in the next year to hold corporations accountable to regulation and reform. 
(3 minutes)

MINUTE 26:40 | Q&A WITH WEBCAST PARTICIPANTS: FANTA KAMAKATE, Senior Program Officer Climate and Energy at Pisces Foundation. Before moderating the question and answer session, Fanta gives a brief overview of the Pisces Foundation’s Climate and Energy Program’s goal to reduce super pollutants (notably black carbon) contributing to climate change in order to have a safe and stable climate. She emphasizes the possibility and opportunity for leadership from industry and funders, the technologies, upcoming regulations, and existing advocacy group focused on this work. 


31:10 | Can you tell us a little bit more about how Air Alliance Houston is addressing the threat of rising ship traffic in Houston? What are the measures that are the measures that are available to protect public health?

34:25 | How is the recent announcement on the greenhouse gas strategy related to progress on this work? 

39:48 | Can you share more about any network, campaign, or other structures that are helping NGOs, impacted communities, and those working in public health engage and connect around this information or whether there is a gap that philanthropy can consider and engage further in?

47:04 | Looking across all the areas in which you work, do you see any priority regions or geographies for organizing that should be on folks’ minds when thinking about this issue? Either from an impacts perspective or from a capacity on the ground emerging as a focus of organizing 

52:29 | You alluded to advances in technology and ways in which this approach could be complemented with other community testing so could you say a little more about that? Could you comment on Todd’s mention of the WHO considering adopting a standard for ultrafine particles and what would that mean for this kind of air testing?  


Please contact if you have further questions.