Royal Caribbean Cruises has confirmed that it has received approvals by the U.S. and Canadian governments seeking an equivalency from its Flag States under Regulation 4 of the IMO’s Annex VI for complying with ECA requirements. The cruise line said that Regulation 4 authorizes Flag States – in this case the Bahamas and Malta – to allow vessels to utilize alternative means of compliance, provided the alternatives are at least as effective in terms of emissions reductions.

Royal Caribbean did not provide specifics, but according to unconfirmed reports, the company will be allowed to implement a fleetwide sulfur averaging and banking program, earning sulfur credits from various sources, including shorepower, scrubbers and low-sulfur fuels.

“We have worked with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Coast Guard and Transport Canada to develop an averaging approach that will meet the requirements of the ECA while lessening the cost impact on our company,” said Jamie Sweeting, vice president of environmental stewardship at Royal Caribbean. “This is an important first step in achieving a broader solution for RCL and the cruise industry,” he added.

A prepared statement went on to say that the cruise industry supports the goal of the ECA to protect public health and welfare by lowering sulfur emissions of cruise ships. “The cruise industry has been at the forefront of not only emissions reduction technology, but wastewater treatment and other innovative solutions to reduce the overall environmental impact of cruising. Royal Caribbean and the cruise industry as a whole have adopted practices and procedures that are substantially more protective of the environment than are required by regulation.”