Amazon, Ikea, Unilever, Others Pledge Zero-Carbon Shipping by 2040

Oct. 27, 2021
Six other firms also pledge to use cargo ships powered by zero-carbon fuel

Amazon, Ikea and Unilever are among the nine firms that have pledged to use cargo ships that use only zero-carbon fuel by 2040. The Aspen Institute, a non-governmental organization is coordinating the campaign and expects other retailers and manufacturers to sign up too. It expects this "aggressive" target will push the shipping industry to decarbonize faster.

Amazon’s director of net-zero carbon, Edgar Blanco, said, “The time to act is now and we welcome other cargo owner companies who want to lead on addressing climate change to join us in collaboration.”

Michelle Grose, head of logistics at Unilever, said, "By signaling our combined commitment to zero-emission shipping, we are confident that we will accelerate the transition at the pace and the scale that is needed."

The other companies that signed the pledge are Brooks Running, Frog Bikes, Inditex (owner of Zara), Michelin, Patagonia and Tchibo.

“Maritime shipping, like all sectors of the global economy, needs to decarbonize rapidly if we are to solve the climate crisis, and multinational companies will be key actors in catalyzing a clean energy transition,” said Dan Porterfield, Aspen Institute’s president and CEO.

Experts say maritime shipping accounts for 3% of the global emissions and if no action is taken, this could increase to 10% by 2050. Decarbonizing the industry will, however, require a hefty investment of more than $2 trillion. Most of the money will be used for the production, storage and distribution of clean fuels. Ship designs will also require a relook.

Some shipping firms had already made such investments. For instance, Maersk placed an order for eight vessels fueled by carbon-neutral methanol instead of an oil-based fuel. Each vessel costs $175 million and is yet to be delivered.

The Aspen Institute agreed that decarbonizing the industry will not be easy and will require ramping up of renewable energy production. However, the organization also pointed out that the shipping industry has not invested enough in the transition to clean energy.

Meanwhile, environmental groups Pacific Environment and said major retail brands must transition to zero-emissions ships by 2030 and this would push the shipping industry to invest the decarbonization.