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Home » Shipping » MSC joins other major lines and says “NO” to Northern Sea Route

MSC joins other major lines and says “NO” to Northern Sea Route

PortandTerminal.com, October 17, 2019

MSC Mediterranean Shipping Company has become the latest industry major to announce it would not use the Arctic as a new shortcut between northern Europe and Asia

GENEVA, SWITZERLAND – MSC has announced that it will not use the Northern Sea Route to ship containers between North Europe and Asia.

With this move, MSC joins German and French counterparts Hapag-Lloyd and CMA CGM who have also decided not to take advantage of the Northern Sea Route which is becoming increasingly more navigable thanks to global warming.

Image credit: The Economist

The Swiss shipping company noted it would instead focus on improving environmental performance on existing global trade routes.

While the Northern Sea Route, which lies entirely in Arctic waters, has been trialed by other shipping lines seeking to take advantage of melting ice from global warming, MSC said it was not willing to take the risk of damaging air quality and endanger the biodiversity of untouched marine habitats in the Arctic.

The company added that it was convinced that the 21 million containers moved each year for its customers can be transported around the world without passing through this Arctic corridor.

Diego Aponte, President & CEO, MSC Group

“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,” 

Diego Aponte, President & CEO, MSC Group

MSC further said that avoiding the Northern Sea Route was complementary to the company’s broader strategic approach to sustainability. It recently 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.

The Northern Route, which runs the length of the Siberian coast, was formerly unnavigable, but its use has been made possible by global warming. Some sectors of the shipping industry see the opening of the route as an opportunity.

Russia said in the past that it is planning to develop a seaport and trade hub in its far eastern Kamchatka region to serve shipments on the Northern Sea Route. A year ago, a Maersk vessel loaded with Russian fish and South Korean electronics was the first container ship to navigate an Arctic sea route, according to Reuters, which has reported since that the carrier is looking to send more goods on the route.

“No one should support shipping goods from Asia to Europe via the Arctic,” he wrote. “Whoever considers it, supports global warming.”

Others have also said no to the shipping route. Otto Schacht, executive vice president of sea logistics for Kuehne + Nagel, said on his LinkedIn page last month the company would not support the route. 

“No one should support shipping goods from Asia to Europe via the Arctic,” he wrote. “Whoever considers it, supports global warming.”

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