Emissions busting cruise ship levy announced by Scottish Greens

A cruise ship tax tax would cut climate emissions while raising vital funds for local authorities.

A new levy on cruise ships visiting Scotland is to be developed by the Scottish Government in partnership with Local Authorities to tackle the twin challenges of slashing the amount of harmful emissions being released and impact of thousands of tourists on port communities.

Scottish Greens co-leader Lorna Slater announced the move at their party conference in Dunfermline today, just seven miles from the port of Rosyth, in a move that will see Scotland join a growing number of countries taking action.

The action will ensure investment to support communities hosting cruise ships, overwhelmed by thousands of visitors at a time, by empowering and working with local councils to introduce a levy to raise vital funding for host communities.

Scottish Greens hope that it will also encourage cruise operators to switch to zero emission vessels.  

Ms Slater said:

“We will work with our partners in Local Government to empower Councils to charge visiting cruise ships a levy. It will mean communities hosting cruise ships get the investment they deserve, and our aim would also be to encourage greener ships. 

“This is essential – one ship produces the same amount of carbon emissions as 12,000 cars; operators have been allowed to get away with polluting for too long. A cruise ship levy will empower councils to help tackle this global problem.”

The progressive shift is part of a global trend to cut down on emissions from the sector. A recent study put the average carbon footprint of a large cruise ship is greater than the combined emissions of 12,000 cars.  

Europe’s most polluted port, Barcelona, announced a ban on cruise ships to their city, while Norway will refuse to allow all but zero emission ships to sail its famous fjords in two years. 

China unveiled its first battery-powered electric cruise ship last month. Scandinavian cruise line Hurtigruten says it will launch an AI enabled, electric vessel with 164ft tall retractable sails covered in solar panels by 2030.  

According to VisitScotland, more than 800,000 cruise passengers visited Scotland in 2019 with around 900 calls to port. Industry group Cruise Scotland have predicted numbers will rise to one million passengers this year.

Scottish Greens transport and environment spokesperson Mark Ruskell said:

“From Ullapool to Greenock, Kirkwall to Edinburgh, Stornoway to Rosyth and many more besides, this will make a massive difference in supporting communities. 

“For all the benefits tourism brings, pressure on infrastructure, services and how lives of locals in port areas are impacted need properly targeted help and this helps.

“We also know that such action is steering the cruise industry towards investing in a greener and cleaner future, and we want to support a responsible and sustainable activity, so it is right that we play a leading role in accelerating that change.”

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