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MSC Cruises 2020 sustainability report: Line ‘on track’ to meet decarbonisation targets

MSC Virtuosa cruise ship
photo_camera MSC Cruises is the first company to return to the seas post-pandemic

MSC Cruises is on track to meet a target for a “40 per cent improvement in emissions intensity by 2030 compared to 2008”, despite the difficulties caused by the pandemic.

That’s the headline finding from the line’s 2020 sustainability report, which analysed the company’s performance against its environmental targets and also how the line navigated the challenges caused by Covid-19.

On the environment, the report stated:

  • MSC Cruises remains on track to meet, or exceed, the target for 40 per cent improvement in emissions intensity by 2030 compared to 2008. While “true comparisons in 2020 compared to previous years are not possible with the long layups”, a 2.5 per cent improvement was seen prior to lay up in 2020 compared to the previous year, which would bring efficiency improvements since 2008 to more than 30 per cent
  • MSC Grandiosa is utilising Ecorizon, a process of ship energy optimisation that collects data using on-board automation systems and sensors, providing more precise status reports on the energy profile of the ship
  • Last year also saw work advance on MSC World Europa, the line’s first liquefied natural gas-powered (LNG) ship. The ship is due to enter service in 2022, with MSC stating it will enable a reduction in SOx and NOx emissions compared to conventional propulsion. Two additional LNG-powered ships are due to enter service in 2023 and 2025

The report also outlined MSC’s work to restart cruise operations in the Mediterranean in August 2020 following the initial shutdown.

It has since resumed sailings in other destinations, including in the UK on domestic itineraries.

In a statement the line said: “MSC Cruises saw the number of commercially operational days for the year drop by 75 per cent and the number of passengers carried decrease by 78 per cent.

“For the crew, closed borders and isolation periods meant that some of them were unable to return home for many months. They were duly looked after while they remained on board, given guest cabins for individual use with all the possible comforts, and provided additional emotional support services.

“While the company looked for viable ways to safely repatriate them, MSC Cruises’ specialised team ashore offered crew members ongoing group and one-to-one psychological support and assistance to help combat loneliness.

“MSC Cruises also rapidly set up the infrastructure required to enable a smooth transition to remote working for shoreside employees. A leading global communication platform was introduced to keep the business connected and allow effective smart working.”

MSC Cruises sustainability director Linden Coppell said: “This report recognises the immediate challenges that Covid-19 brought to us, and despite this, our continued focus on our environmental and social obligations and actions, not least the growing demand for decarbonisation.

“At present, our industry is almost wholly reliant on fossil fuels. To achieve our zero emissions goal, we will need to switch to new fuels and require the support of governments and regulators to enable this major transition in the cruise industry.

“In the meantime, we are committed to improving the energy efficiency of our existing fleet and are considering how best to prepare for the future. This includes investigating the use of low carbon fuels that, if available at scale, can replace existing fuels without significant modification of current machineries and systems.”

MSC Cruises executive chairman Pierfrancesco Vago added: “During 2020 we achieved a huge amount and MSC Cruises rose to the challenges posed by the pandemic.

“We got all our guests and crew home safely early on, and we were then the first to launch our industry leading health and safety operating protocol that has redefined cruising and made it one of the safest options for a holiday now, and in the future. During all this, we did not lose sight of our commitments to be an ethical as well as sustainable company.

“We made significant progress in protecting our planet by reducing emissions through investment in new technologies like LNG, which are bringing us closer to achieving net carbon neutral operations by 2050, as well as other major accomplishments in looking after our people, caring for the places we visit, improving procurement and providing emergency support through the MSC Foundation. This year’s report is another important milestone in our journey towards fully sustainable and zero climate impact operations.”

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