For the 46th consecutive year 22 April is being celebrated as Earth Day. What started in 1970 as a movement that aimed to channel the shared voice of humanity towards key environmental issues has continued to grow gather traction. The superyacht industry has not traditionally been famed for its environmental responsibility, but recent years have seen a step change in environmental sentiment.
The fight to become green, or greener, is often far more complex than the media gives it credit for. To take an example, in 2015 Feadship began trialling a cleaner fuel called gas-to-liquid (GTL) synthetic diesel. On the surface the initial results seemed promising; sea trials displayed a 30 per cent reduction in soot and unburnt fuel levels and around a 10 per cent reduction in NOx and C02, as well as a complete avoidance of sulphur.
However, at the 2015 Global Superyacht Forum a representative from Shell, the producer of the fuel, revealed that while GTL is less damaging to the environment during its use, throughout its lifecycle, from production to its eventual combustion, its carbon footprint was equivalent to that of standard marine diesel. This highlights the fact the perception of environmental responsibility doesn’t always guarantee its validity, although, in defence of Feadship, GTL boasted a whole host of other redeeming qualities.
That being said, large companies, including superyachts, which run and are owned as such, are becoming increasingly aware of environmental considerations and noticeable measures are being taken to limit the superyacht market’s carbon scar on the planet.
Whether it be through regulations, such as MARPOL Annex VI, or through personal moral obligation, corporate social responsibility has begun to come to the fore in the superyacht industry. Through the wishes of environmentally conscious owners, regulations on emissions, technologies to recycle and reduce waste, as well as research and development into sustainable energy, as an industry we are moving in the right direction.
Becoming greener does not only relate to a reduced reliance on fossil fuels and the hopeful advent disruptive technologies, being greener can be managed through a variety of systems. Perhaps the most important of these systems, to businesses, is the ability to be green through the effective management of operational efficiency. Wasteful processes of any sort waste global resources, create waste, waste time and waste money. By reducing wastage, be it a suboptimal genset or the dispelling of useful material, businesses are able to be greener and profit as a result. Its a win, win.
Only environmental romanticists are under the illusion that change will come overnight, the world simply does not work in that way, especially when vast amounts of money are at stake. However, by continuing to regulate, develop new technologies and educate the owners of the future there is no reason that one day the superyacht cannot shake its reputation of old.