Ahead of the G7 meeting in France, CMA CGM pledged not to use the Northern Sea Route, citing climate considerations and the need to preserve the Arctic.
In the statement the shipping line said that using the Northern Sea Route would represent a significant danger to the region’s unique natural ecosystems, mainly due to the numerous threats posed by accidents, oil pollution or collisions with marine wildlife.
It also noted that using the route would provide a “major competitive advantage” for shipping companies.
The feasibility of using the route, which runs the length of the Siberian Coast connecting Asia and Europe, has increased in recent decades, partly due to climate change.
Last year, Maersk carried out a one-off trial sending a container ship loaded with Russian fish and South Korean electronics on the route.
It has recently held talks with Russia’s state-owned icebreaker operator to send more goods via the Arctic where the biggest navigation hazard is sea ice.
Additionally, this year, bremenports signed an agreement to develop of a deep-water port at Finnafjord in the north-east of Iceland, a long-term project which relies on shipping becoming more viable in the Arctic.
Rodolphe Saadé, chairman and CEO of the CMA CGM Group, tweeted: “I decided that CMA CGM will not use the Northern Sea Route. This is a bold choice for the preservation of the Arctic that has an essential role in regulating ocean currents and global climate patterns.
He also said: “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.”
The carrier also pledged it will give priority to liquefied natural gas (LNG) to power its future ships.
The company has ordered nine container vessels with a capacity of 23,000 teu to be powered by LNG – the first will be delivered in 2020. BY 2022, the group will have 20 LNG-powered vessels in its fleet.
CMA CGM pointed out that the use of LNG would reduce sulphur and fine particles emissions by 99%, nitrogen oxides emissions by 85% and CO2 emissions by up to 20%.
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.