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CMA CGM says no to the Northern Sea Route

Arctic shuttle tanker Mikhail Ulyanov.
The world’s third largest container line CMA CGM is saying no to using the Northern Sea Route (NSR) connecting Asia – Europe via the Arctic.

The NSR offers a significantly shorter route between North Europe and North Asia and is opening up as a realistic alternative to transiting via the Suez Canal in the summer months as Polar ice recedes due to global warming.

However, CMA CGM stated on Friday that none of its 500 vessels would sail via the NSR due to environmental concerns despite the major competitive advantages it could offer to shipping companies.

“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,” CMA CGM said.

“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.”

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Saadé made the announcement when meeting with the 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, ahead of the G7 meeting at Biarritz from 24 - 26 August.

He also committed to CMA CGM giving priority to using LNG as a marine fuel to reduce emissions. The French line is the first to order 23,000 teu capacity LNG-fuelled vessels.

Saadé stated: “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.