MSC Cruises said it will buy enough credits in the carbon-offset market to make its marine operations carbon neutral starting in 2020.

MSC has 17 ships with more on the way, and collectively they produce millions of tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) through fossil fuel combustion.

The company did not say exactly how much C02 its ships produce, nor how much it would cost to offset the emissions, but said that it would become the first carbon-neutral cruise line, starting in January.

"MSC Cruises will offset all direct carbon dioxide emissions from its fleet marine operations through a blend of carbon offset projects developed according to the highest standards by leading international entities that take immediate action on greenhouse gas emissions," MSC executive chairman Pierfrancesco Vago said in a statement.

"All costs for the offsets as well as any other associated items will be covered directly and in full by the company," he said.

MSC announced its emissions offset plans in Hamburg at the christening ceremony for its latest ship, the MSC Grandiosa.

Cruise ships produced a total of 21.2 million tons of carbon dioxide in 2017, according to a compilation by the Institute for Tourism at Griffith University in Queensland, Australia.

Carnival Corp. accounted for 10.69 million tons and Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. for 4.23 million tons. Both companies publish tallies annually.

Griffith estimated the rest of the cruise industry, including MSC Cruises, accounted for 6.27 million tons. Cruise lines account for 0.2% of global CO2 emissions sourced from combustion of fossil fuels and cement production, it said.

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