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vago at grandiosa intro
MSC Cruises Executive Chairman Pierfrancesco Vago outlines the plans during a briefing aboard the new MSC Grandiosa in Hamburg PHOTO: Mary Bond

MSC first major cruise line to commit to carbon neutral marine operations

MSC plans to become the world’s first major cruise line with carbon neutral marine operations.

‘As we recognize 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 January 1, 2020,’ Pierfrancesco Vago, executive chairman of MSC Cruises, announced Friday at the introduction of MSC Grandiosa in Hamburg.

Blend of carbon offset projects

MSC Cruises will offset all direct carbon dioxide emissions from its fleet marine operations through a blend of carbon offset projects 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.’

First carbon credits generated from the ocean

In particular, MSC Cruises aims to develop a carbon offset portfolio that incorporates projects to 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 scarce, MSC 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 biodiversity and to support communities that rely on the highly pressurized resources of the sea.

‘Blue carbon offsets will be a specific area of focus of our commitment to ensure carbon neutrality with immediate effect,’ Vago said. ‘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.’

Builds on other actions

MSC Cruises has taken a number of steps to reduce harmful emissions, and it is on track to achieve a fleetwide 29% reduction in carbon intensity (rate) by 2024 versus 2008, on its way to meet a 40% reduction target set for 2030.

Additionally, last week the company announced the PACBOAT project for LNG-powered fuel cells will be hosted on board MSC Europa in a major leap to reduce emissions.