Arctic Indigenous Leaders Petition Carnival Corporation

George Edwardson
George Edwardson

By The Maritime Executive 10-24-2018 06:18:19

A delegation of Arctic Indigenous leaders and environmentalists delivered a petition signed by 104,000 people to Carnival Corporation's U.K. headquarters on Wednesday. The signatories, from countries across Europe and North America, are demanding  that it cease burning heavy fuel oil in the Arctic and Subarctic. The group cited concerns about the impact of black carbon on the Arctic as well as the consequences should an oil spill occur, saying it would cost cruise companies less than five of the ticket price to use a cleaner type on their Arctic cruises. 

The move coincides with the IMO Marine Environment Protection Committee meeting (MEPC73) considers steps towards banning the use and carriage of heavy fuel oil in Arctic Waters.

George Edwardson, President of the Iñupiat community of the Arctic Slope, Board Member for Inuit Circumpolar Council – Alaska, one of the Indigenous leaders who traveled to Southampton to deliver his message to Carnival executives, said: “I need to reach you. We have to save the ocean. My people and my food are important. There are over 13,000 of us in eight communities, with a 90,000-mile jurisdiction. I need everyone’s help to make sure it’s safe,” he said.

“I’m 71 years old. When I was a teenager I was playing at a place that’s now a mile out at sea. The sea has come inland another mile in my lifetime, and in my dad’s and my lifetimes, a mile and three quarters. Carnival needs to listen to the will of people in the Arctic and our Utqia?vik declaration to end the use of heavy fuel oil in our ocean.”

Delbert Pungowiyi, President of the Native Village of Savoonga, Alaska, stressed that the company ending its use of heavy fuel oil wasn’t just about his communities and other Arctic peoples, saying: “We’re at a critical time to protect what we have left. It’s not just about protecting our own [people’s] survival, it’s about the good of all.

“We’ve been witnessing this for many years now – loss of ice and weather patterns changing, at magnitudes that man has not known,” sais Pungowiyi. “The scary thing about it is, this is only the beginning. It’s going to get worse, it’s going to get bigger, unless we combat climate change very aggressively now.”

Representatives from Clean Up Carnival Coalition member organizations -- Stand.earth (North America); Transport & Environment (Europe); Friends of the Earth US; Pacific Environment (North America, Europe, Asia) and Alaska Native and Arctic Indigenous communities participated in the delivery of the petition.