MSC Cruises is to become the world’s first fully carbon neutral major cruise line.
An announcement was made during a ceremony to mark the entry into service of the ‘MSC Grandiosa’ in Hamburg on 8th November.
Pierfrancesco Vago, MSC Cruises Executive Chairman, said: “Our focus on innovation since we built our first cruise ships only in 2003 ensures that we have one of the most modern fleets at sea as well as one of the highest environmentally performing. And, thanks to our long-term planning, this will allow us to already achieve a fleet-wide 29% reduction in carbon intensity (rate) by 2024 vs 2008, well on our way to meet the 40% reduction target set for 2030.
“Additionally, last week we announced that the LNG-powered fuel cells PACBOAT project will be hosted on board ‘MSC Europa’ – the first of five LNG-powered cruise ships that are due to join our fleet. This is not only a world-first for a technology that promises to be most efficient for high-power maritime operations but also yet another concrete example of our firm commitment to partner and support the accelerated development of the next-generation technologies that will lead us and this industry to zero-emissions ship operations.
“As we recognise that today’s even most advanced maritime environmental technology alone is insufficient to immediately reach carbon neutrality, the further commitment we make today ensures that our fleet makes no negative contribution to climate change, starting 1st January, 2020. We are a company with over 300 years of maritime heritage and an historical focus on the long-term that is especially typical of family-owned businesses like ours. For us, this is another step forward in our long-standing commitment to protecting the oceans, the destinations we visit and the port communities we touch,” he said.
MSC Cruises will offset all direct carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from its fleet marine operations through a mix of carbon offset projects developed according to the standards set by leading international entities that take immediate action on greenhouse gas emissions. All costs for the offsets, as well as any other associated items, will be covered directly and in full by the company.
Vago added: “We will work with leading providers in carbon offsets able to offset CO2 emissions with the highest level of integrity. Our vision is to also invest in projects that provide quantifiable community benefits, protect the environment and support the UN Sustainable Development Goals.”
In particular, MSC Cruises aims to develop a carbon offset portfolio that incorporates projects which protect and restore ocean and coastal habitats while also absorbing more CO2 than currently occurs.
As ‘Blue Carbon’ projects focused mainly on coastal habitats are currently rare, MSC Cruises will support the development of what aims to become the first carbon credits to be generated from the ocean, constituting an important new means for protecting and enhancing marine bio-diversity and to support communities that rely on the highly pressurised resources of the sea, MSC said.
Vago concluded: “Blue carbon offsets will be a specific area of focus of our commitment to ensure carbon neutrality with immediate effect. We will put our people and our resources to work to also support the development of the specific type of projects, and the enabling certification processes, that can generate this innovative form of offsets which directly benefit the oceans and communities that live by the sea.
“As more of these become available, we will steadily increase our reliance on them as an additional area of focus within our overall long-term commitment to achieving zero-emissions operations,” he said.
MSC Cruises’ commitment to delivering zero-emissions operations also includes a specific focus on energy efficiency and other aspects of its end-to-end operations beyond emissions.
In particular, since 2017 all MSC Cruises new ships come equipped with ship-to-shore power facilities, a feature that would allow cruise ships to immediately go ‘zero-emissions’ in any port that is ready for this technology. And this will provide even greater overall benefit when the ultimate source of shore power is renewable.