Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) has recently announced it will not use the Arctic Northern Sea Route between Europe and Asia for container shipping citing environmental concerns.
The Swiss-Italian international shipping line said it is convinced that the 21 million containers that it moves each year can be transported around the world without passing through this Arctic corridor.
"MSC has decided not to use the Arctic as a new short cut between northern Europe and Asia and will instead focus on improving environmental performance on existing global trade routes," the shipping firm said.
The Northern Sea Route lies entirely in Arctic waters and has been trialed by other shipping lines seeking to take advantage of melting ice from global warming. But MSC said a surge in container shipping traffic in the Arctic could damage air quality and endanger the biodiversity of untouched marine habitats – a risk MSC is not willing to take.
“As a responsible company with a longstanding nautical heritage and passion for the sea, MSC finds the disappearance of Arctic ice to be profoundly disturbing. Every drop in the oceans is precious and our industry should focus its efforts on limiting environmental emissions and protecting the marine environment across existing trade routes,” said Diego Aponte, President & CEO, MSC Group.
More environmentally friendly fleet
MSC said the decision to avoid the Northern Sea Route is complementary to the company’s broader strategic approach to sustainability.
In particular, to help tackle climate change, MSC said it completed a program to retrofit more than 250 ships in its existing fleet with the latest green technologies, cutting about two million tons of CO2 emissions each year.
Furthermore, the latest newbuilding additions to the fleet – led by MSC Gülsün, the largest container ship in the world – has introduced a new class of sustainable container shipping, with the lowest carbon footprint by design, at 7.49 grams of CO2 emissions to move one ton of cargo one nautical mile.
"MSC’s fleet improvement program has resulted in a 13% reduction in CO2 emissions per transport work in 2015-18 and will help the container shipping industry make progress towards the United Nations International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) 2030 CO2 targets," the company said.
Looking at alternative fuel options
MSC said aside from the improvements on engines, more efficient propeller and rudder designs and technologies to reduce hull friction, MSC is actively studying the potential of new alternative fuel sources as part of its commitment to making its fleet more environmentally friendly.
.he company noted that it is engaging with potential vendors to investigate solutions related to biofuel blends, hydrogen fuel cells, complementary battery power and, potentially, wind and solar, as part of a long road of discovery in relation to future policy goals.
“MSC is on a well-defined pathway to meet the 2030 IMO level of ambition for CO2 emissions intensity reduction,” said Bud Darr, executive vice president, maritime policy & government affairs, MSC Group.
MSC joins Hapag-Lloyd and CMA CGM, who both earlier announced they are shunning the route due to environmental concerns.