Indigenous leaders, environmental groups tell Carnival Corporation to stop polluting the Arctic

October 24, 2018

Delegation delivers petition signed by 104,000 to cruise company’s London HQ while nearby, International Maritime Organization consider ban on heavy fuel oil in Arctic waters

Southampton, UK – This morning, a delegation of Arctic Indigenous leaders and marine and environmental experts delivered a petition signed by 104,000 concerned people from countries across Europe and North America, to cruise giant Carnival Corporation at its UK headquarters in Southampton, demanding that it cease burning dirty heavy fuel oil in the Arctic and Subarctic. 

See photos and videos from the petition delivery.

At the International Maritime Organization headquarters in London, a gathering of the Marine Environment Protection Committee, MEPC73, will this week consider steps towards banning the use and carriage of heavy fuel oil in Arctic waters.

“Carnival claims that sustainability and human rights are core company values, but it cannot be an environmental leader while burning one of the dirtiest fossil fuels in the pristine Arctic. We are asking Carnival to step up to meet its own higher standards, respect the express will of Arctic peoples, and end its use of heavy fuel oil in this fragile and imperilled region,” said Kendra Ulrich, Senior Shipping Campaigner for “Carnival can become an industry leader by making the move sooner than international regulations would require.”

“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. Don’t save money using dirty oil. I need to stay alive,” said George Edwardson, President of the Iñupiat community of the Arctic Slope and Board Member for Inuit Circumpolar Council – Alaska.

Carnival, the largest cruise line operator in the world with over 40% of the global market share and ten brands that operate worldwide, uses one of the dirtiest fossil fuels in the world to power the vast majority of its ships: heavy fuel oil. This is the thick, bottom-of-the-barrel waste sludge left over after other petroleum products are distilled from crude. High in toxic heavy metals and other contaminates, it’s so dirty that on land, it’s classified as hazardous waste. And because it’s a waste product, it is dirt cheap for companies like Carnival. When burned for ship fuel, it releases enormous amounts of soot, also called black carbon. When that soot deposits on the pristine Arctic ice, it accelerates the rate of ice melt. A spill of heavy fuel oil in the harsh and often inaccessible Arctic waters would be impossible to clean up and would be a long-term environmental disaster, as it persists in the environment for much longer periods of time, due to its thick, tar-like consistency.

Stressing that the company ending its use of heavy fuel oil wasn’t just about his communities and other Arctic peoples, Delbert Pungowiyi, President of the Native Village of Savoonga, Alaska said, “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.”

Burning heavy fuel oil also poses a risk to human health: The British Heart Foundation advises cruise ship passengers to not sit downwind of the funnel, and says that even short-term exposure of under two hours to such fumes may cause long-term heart health problems, as well as increasing the risks of heart attack and stroke in people with pre-existing conditions.

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

The Inuit Circumpolar Council (ICC), which includes territories in Alaska, Canada, Russia, issued the Utqiaġvik declaration in July, which included a call to end the use of heavy fuel oil. Many Carnival ships travel in these areas, but continue to burn heavy fuel oil.


Media contacts
Kendra Ulrich, Senior Shipping Campaigner,,, +1 (360) 255-3555 (Based in US, currently in UK)
Dave Walsh, Communications Advisor,, +34 691826764 (Barcelona)
Coalition website:
Carnival campaign Q&A:
Would you forgo a glass of wine to protect the Arctic and our climate?
Heavy Fuel Oil use by Cruise Ships in the IMO Polar Code Arctic, 2015 (published February 2018):