Relatively few yachts have a stated environmental policy which goes much beyond that required by the ISM, Ship Energy Efficiency Management Plan (SEEMP) or MARPOL. These conventions were after all designed to fit the needs of commercial shipping and their application for yachts is a by-product.  Is it time that the luxury yachting industry appointed Environmental Officers aboard superyachts?

There are of course many yachts out there that have made concessions to reducing their ‘carbon keel print’. Heesen’s recent ground-breaking Electra class 50m for example, has applied state of the art technology in order to provide a yacht which has modern style combined with cutting edge eco-efficient propulsion characteristics.

The concept of yachts operating in a more and more environmentally-friendly way has long been holy grail for many. Diesel electric power, hydrogen fuel cells and zero emissions are now phrases that we routinely see describing the operation of design concepts and a very few modern yachts. But, without the training and sentiment required to make optimal use of technology, it may fall short of being the magic bullet the yachting industry strives for. In improving our ‘carbon keel print’ it is undoubtedly the crew that still provides the X factor in achieving a reduction in emissions. Imagine then, if, as an industry, we were better equipped to combine the use of technology with the sentiment to operate yachts in a more eco-friendly way. If yachts carried on board a designated “Environmental Officer” responsible for ensuring a yachts optimal environmental efficiency, the combination of technology and sentiment could be surely be better applied in order to complement each other.

The Environmental Officer needs not fit into the current deck or engineering pigeon-hole and could perfectly well be undertaken by an interior crew member. In the absence of any gender implication in the role, it could improve or augment the career path of female crew. Indeed, it has long been a criticism of the industry that the interior staff, which are predominantly women, have little in the way of a career path compared to their deck and engineering colleagues. Let’s face it if the Environmental officer’s role involves training which is likely, the interior staff would have far more opportunity, simply because the deck and engineering crew training is already so structured that they would be unlikely to have time for training in environmentalism in addition to the rest of their qualifications.

An environmental officer would surely, after training, be able to advise the captain and crew on just the sort of operational improvements that would benefit the environment. From recycling, to reducing the use of environment harming chemical cleaners, reducing unnecessary power consumption, helping promote economic transit speeds, and calculate more efficient fuel loading. An environmental officer would ultimately provide a yacht with a green conscience. Somebody to keep an eye on the attitude of the crew and in order to promote and facilitate the little efforts that, when combined, make a positive difference.

An environmental officer could also be charged with gathering ocean data that could be collated and used by experts to study the environment. In short, the role of an environmental officer could be a most rewarding one and could encourage yacht crew to join in with the majority of the world by taking positive steps to help the environment.

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We surely don’t need to wait for a bureaucratic in a grey suit to add a ‘luxury yacht tax’ do we? The green debate has all but stopped, there are very few people arguing with the fact that the Earth is warming up and its resources are dwindling. The reason is, very simply, because the Earth is warming up and its resources are dwindling. Who would be prepared to bet against yachts stating their fuel economy on their charter brochures within a few years or highlighting their efforts to reduce their ‘carbon keel print’?
Nobody needs a yacht of course, but they aren’t going to disappear anytime soon and for those who can afford them, environmental guilt reduction might even become a selling point. All crew can all play a part in ‘greening’ yachts; crew are the X factor!

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