French shipping major CMA CGM has decided that none of its 500 vessels will use the Northern Sea Route along Siberia, which is now open due to climate change.
Additionally, the company said it would give priority to liquefied natural gas (LNG) to power its future ships in order to further protect the environment.
“With this decision, CMA CGM makes the resolute choice to protect the environment and the planet’s biodiversity despite the major competitive advantage this route represents for shipping companies,” Rodolphe Saadé, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the CMA CGM Group, said.
The decisions were to be presented at the G7 meeting taking place at Biarritz, France, from August 24-26.
The Northern Sea Route, which runs the length of the Siberian Coast, connects Asia to Europe today. The route has been made navigable due to the effects of global warming.
“The use of the Northern Sea Route will represent a significant danger to the unique natural ecosystems of this part of the world, mainly due to the numerous threats posed by accidents, oil pollution or collisions with marine wildlife,” according to CMA CGM.
Furthermore, the company explained that today LNG offers the best proven solution available to significantly reduce the environmental footprint of maritime transport. The use of LNG reduces emissions of sulphur and fine particles by 99%, nitrogen oxides emissions by 85% and carbon dioxide emissions by up to 20%.
CMA CGM would use LNG to power its ultra-large ships that are designed to carry up to 23,000 containers. The first ship in this fleet of nine container vessels are scheduled for delivery as early as 2020. By 2022, the company will have 20 LNG-powered vessels in its fleet.
The shipowner added that it continues research into other energy sources after a successful test of biofuel oil at port of Rotterdam aboard the 5,095 TEU containership CMA CGM White Shark in March 2019. CMA CGM is also establishing research partnerships to develop hydrogen as a potential long-term energy solution.
During the meeting, Saadé is to deliver to the President of France, Emmanuel Macron, on behalf of the maritime industry, the SAILS (Sustainable Actions for Innovative and Low-impact Shipping) Charter, formalized on the initiative of the Ministry for the Ecological and Inclusive Transition.
Through this charter, ten French signatory shipping companies, including Brittany Ferries, CMA CGM, Corsica ferries, Corsica Linea, Express des îles, Jifmar, La Méridionale, LDA, Orange Marine, PONANT, all members of Armateurs de France, commit to implementing specific actions in the reduction of emissions of air pollutants and greenhouse gases, whale protection, vessel energy optimization and performance, and strengthening of relations with the scientific community.
Between 2005 and 2015, the group reduced its CO2 emissions per container transported by 50% and has a target to further reduce these emissions by a further 30% by 2025.
“We make these decisions for the future, to leave our children a cleaner planet,” Saadé said, inviting the entire industry, competitors, partners and customers, “to join us.”