Cruise

MSC chairman says environmental concerns are “fake news” as line commits to carbon-neutral goal

Ali Coulton

Ali Coulton

MSC Cruises has committed to becoming the world’s first fully carbon-neutral global cruise line, despite its executive chairman making some troubling comments in the media this week.

During an interview with the Miami Herald, Pierfrancesco Vago said concerns around the cruise industry’s carbon footprint are based off “fake news”.

“A lot of people in this part of the world in Europe have been saying cruise ships are not environmentally friendly. That’s the fake news I’m referring to,” he said.

The cruise industry has copped its fair share of criticism in regards to its environmental impact, with Forbes reporting that a passenger’s carbon footprint triples in size when taking a cruise, not to mention the ships that have been caught illegally dumping waste into the ocean.

To celebrate the launch of MSC’s “most environmentally-advanced cruise ship yet” – MSC Grandiosa – the line has announced it will become carbon neutral by 2020.

“Our focus on innovation since we built our first cruise ships only in 2003 ensures that we have one of the most modern fleets at sea as well as one of the highest environmentally performing,” Vago said in a release from the line.

“And, thanks to our long-term planning, this will allow us to already achieve a fleet-wide 29 per cent reduction in carbon intensity (rate) by 2024 vs. 2008, well on our way to meet the 40 per cent reduction target set for 2030.

MSC said it will offset all direct carbon dioxide emissions from its fleet marine operations through a blend of carbon offset projects focused on ‘blue’ carbon credits, meaning the money from the offsetting process will go into marine-focused sustainability efforts.

Carbon offsetting is often used as a bridge for companies, like airlines and cruise lines, wishing to make an effort towards sustainability while they work to transition to a more sustainable fuel source. But while such sources are still a while off being produced on a mass scale, the effectiveness of carbon offsetting really depends on where the money goes.

Skift points out that carbon offsets are a byproduct of ‘greenwashing’, where brands attempt to paint an eco-conscious image of themselves while not addressing the root cause of the pollution they contribute to the atmosphere.

The publication goes as far as saying it is ‘fake news’ that carbon offsetting limits the amount of pollution created by a company.

“We understand the intention is to have a zero-emission society, zero-emission maritime industry,” Vago told the Miami Herald.

“We also understand the technology that is available doesn’t allow us to commit to totally zero-CO2 performance.”

MSC is the fourth-largest cruise line in the world and its main competitors, Carnival Corporation, Royal Caribbean Cruises and Norwegian all have carbon offsetting programs but none have yet achieved carbon neutral status.

In September, Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) released a report revealing that its member cruise lines had invested $22 billion in ships with environmental measures and 44 per cent of new builds will now rely on NLG fuel for primary propulsion – a 60 per cent increase in overall capacity compared to last year.

Travel Weekly has reached out to MSC for comment.


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