This Shipping Company Won’t Use Northern Sea Route as Shortcut

by Ruth Seeley

MSC Mediterranean Shipping Company recently signed the Arctic Corporate Shipping Pledge and will not use the Arctic route as a new shortcut between northern Europe and Asia. The company will focus instead on improving environmental performance on existing global trade routes.

While other shipping lines have conducted trials seeking to take advantage of melting ice from global warming, MSC will transport its 21 million containers without passing through this Arctic corridor.

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.

MSC’s decision to avoid the Northern Sea Route is complementary to the company’s broader strategic approach to sustainability.

To help tackle climate change, MSC completed a program to retrofit more than 250 ships in its existing fleet with the latest green technologies, cutting about 2 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 remains committed to adopting concrete plans to modernise its green and efficient fleet via the largest container shipping investment program in the industry.

“MSC is on a well-defined pathway to meet the 2030 IMO level of ambition for CO2 emissions intensity reduction. The great challenge which remains for container shipping this century is how to decarbonise and meet the UN IMO’s future emissions goals beyond 2030. While we are fully supporting these more distant targets, this will not be achievable without some major breakthroughs in fuel and propulsion technologies,” said Bud Darr, Executive Vice President, Maritime Policy & Government Affairs, MSC Group.

While recent improvements have depended largely on better-performing engines, more efficient propeller and rudder designs and technologies to reduce hull friction, MSC is actively studying the potential of new alternative fuel sources. The company is engaging with potential vendors to investigate solutions related to biofuel blends, hydrogen fuel cells, complementary battery power and, potentially, wind and solar.

The latest edition of MSC’s Sustainability Report can be downloaded here.

*CO2 emissions per transport work is an intensity measure: grams of CO2 emissions to move one ton of cargo one nautical mile. The figure of 13% relates to MSC’s Energy Efficiency Operational Indicator (EEOI).
Source: MSC Mediterrean Shipping Company

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