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CMA CGM chooses environment over Northern Sea Route

The Northern Sea Route is a shipping lane situated between the Atlantic Ocean and the Pacific Ocean along the Russian coast of Siberia and Far East.. This route crosses Barents Sea, Kara Sea, Laptev Sea, East Siberian Sea and Chukchi Sea..

Five years ago this route was quite empty between December to May.. But as per reports, currently there are more than 20 ships per day on average which are active on this route..

This is testament to the effects of climate change and global warming..

Northern Sea Route - CMA CGM
Image – CMA CGM

This route has become quite popular in the name of saving on transit time and costs and almost 500,000 tons of cargo passed through this route in 2018.. Most of it is said to by Cosco the 3rd largest container shipping line in the world and one of the biggest shipping companies in the world, as part of their Polar Silk Road..

As per the Ministry of Transport of Russia, its Arctic sea ports handled around 92.7 million tons, of which 70% was liquefied natural gas and oil.

Northern Sea Route
Image : The Economist

It has been reported that 164 different companies navigated on the route operating 26 voyages between Europe and Asia..

In 2018, Maersk Line the world’s largest container shipping line successfully sent Venta Maersk, one of their Baltic feeder vessels, on a trial voyage from Vladivostok to Bremerhaven..

One line however is choosing environmental and social responsibility to protect the biodiversity of both the Arctic region and the entire planet over the Northern Sea Route..

CMA CGM announced on 23rd August that they have taken a decision that CMA CGM fleet will not use the Northern Sea Route reasserting its commitment as a leader in protecting the environment within the maritime transport industry..

The announcement reads as below..

August 23, 2019

  • A forward-looking, socially responsible choice to protect the biodiversity of both the Arctic region and the entire planet
  • CMA CGM, a pioneer and world leader in the use of LNG to power its future high-capacity container ships
  • CMA CGM a signatory of the SAILS Charter initiated by France’s Ministry for the Ecological and Inclusive Transition

Ahead of the G7 meeting at Biarritz from August 24-26, French President Emmanuel Macron, accompanied by Economy and Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire, Minister of Labour Muriel Pénicaud, and Deputy Minister for the Ecological and Inclusive Transition Brune Poirson, this afternoon has invited to the Elysée Palace representatives of the shipping industry including global leader CMA CGM.

On this occasion, Rodolphe Saadé, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the CMA CGM Group, will announce two major decisions impacting the future of the maritime industry:

  • the CMA CGM fleet will not use the Northern Sea Route
  • the Group will give priority to liquefied natural gas to power its future ships

The CMA CGM Group thus reasserts its role within the maritime transport industry as a leader in protecting the environment.


Protecting the Arctic, the world’s reservoir of biodiversity

Today, the Northern Sea Route, which runs the length of the Siberian Coast, connects Asia to Europe. It has been made navigable due to the effects of global warming.

Rich in its unique and largely unexplored biodiversity, the Arctic plays an essential role in regulating ocean currents and global climate patterns.

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.

To avoid posing a greater threat to this fragile environment, Rodolphe Saadé has decided that none of the CMA CGM Group’s 500 vessels will use the Northern Sea Route along Siberia, which is now open due to climate change.

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.


A pioneering Group in the use of liquefied natural gas to power ultra-large vessels

Today, liquefied natural gas 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%
  • carbon dioxide emissions by up to 20%

CMA CGM is leading the way with its decision to use LNG power in its ultra-large ships that carry up to 23,000 containers.

This pioneering choice in the international maritime industry took seven years of development in collaboration with shipyards, suppliers, large groups, SMEs and research laboratories.

The first ship in this fleet of nine container vessels will be delivered as early as 2020. By 2022, the Group will have 20 LNG-powered vessels in its fleet.

CMA CGM continues its research into other energy sources and was the world’s first container shipping company to successfully test a biofuel oil, made with 20% recycled vegetable oils and forest residues. It is also establishing research partnerships to develop hydrogen as a potential long-term energy solution.


CMA CGM, a leader in the energy transition of the shipping industry

During the meeting, Rodolphe Saadé will deliver to the President of France, 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, the ten French signatory shipping companies[1], 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.

Committed to the industry’s energy transformation, CMA CGM is continuously innovating in order to equip its fleet with the most environmentally-friendly technology. Between 2005 and 2015, the Group has already reduced its CO2 emissions per container transported by 50% and has a target to further reduce these emissions by a further 30% by 2025.


Rodolphe Saadé, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the CMA CGM Group, states:“We make these choices to meet the needs of our employees and our customers, who are increasingly concerned about the environment. But above all, we make these decisions for the future, to leave our children a cleaner planet.

These are brave, bold choices, which go far beyond purely business decisions. This is a firm belief for us, born out of our family ethos and our strong human values, to make responsible, forward-looking choices.

That is how we plan to build fairer, more environmentally-friendly trade, and I invite the entire industry – competitors, partners and customers – to join us.”

I say big ups to CMA CGM on their decision not to use the Northern Sea Route..

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