Global Retailers Aim To Go Green by 2040

Through a new cargo owner-led network facilitated by the Aspen Institute, a group of corporate climate leaders have announced a first-of-its-kind target to progressively switch all of their ocean freight to vessels powered by zero-carbon fuels by 2040. Amazon, Brooks Running, Frog Bikes, IKEA, Inditex, Michelin, Patagonia, Tchibo, and Unilever are the first signatories to a 2040 ambition statement facilitated by Cargo Owners for Zero Emission Vessels (coZEV).

This ambition statement aims to send an important demand signal to the maritime value chain and bunker fuel producers that freight customers want zero-carbon shipping and they expect the industry to rapidly accelerate its decarbonization efforts in the years ahead. It also signals increased interest by consumer goods companies and retailers to work collaboratively, deploy their capacities for innovation, and drive economies of scale to foster an economically viable marketplace for zero-carbon shipping.

“The coZEV initiative represents an historic step in the fight against climate change, with its bold ambition to harness corporate climate leadership to accelerate decarbonization of the global maritime shipping industry,” said Ingrid Irigoyen, Director of the Aspen Institute Shipping Decarbonization Initiative, which facilitates the coZEV effort.

“Maritime shipping has long been a major producer of climate and air pollution, and attempts to transition awayfrom fossil fuels have faced significant hurdles, including a perceived lack of freight customer demand that has stifled investment and scalability of potential solutions. By setting an aggressive target today, a group of leaders is changing the conversation. And this is just the start, we expect this movement among climate leading companies to grow rapidly. This will allow us to drive economies of scale, innovation, and a surge of confidence among investors and value-chain actors that there is a business opportunity in doing the right thing.”

“We are thrilled to co-launch this much needed initiative aimed to help switch ocean freight to vessels powered by zero-carbon fuels,” said Edgar Blanco, Director, Net-Zero Carbon at Amazon. “We look forward to working together with the Aspen Institute and other companies to scale up innovative climate solutions to decarbonize maritime shipping, which will help us meet The Climate Pledge, a commitment to reach net-zero carbon by 2040. 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.”

“We need to speed up the transformation towards zero emission ocean shipping. By collaborating with like minded partners, companies, and organizations across the value chain we can create strong movements. Therefore, we have today signed the ambition statement ‘Cargo Owners for Zero Emission Vessels’,” says Elisabeth Munck af Rosenschöld Sustainability Manager Supply Chain Operations at IKEA. “It’s an important stepping-stone to manifest the commitment to decarbonize ocean shipping. With this ambition statement we want to demonstrate the determination to reach set targets and instill confidence amongst all stakeholders across the ocean shipping industry on the direction of our common decarbonizing journey ahead.”

Today, maritime shipping powered by heavy fuel oil produces 1 billion tonnes of climate pollution each year — as much as a G7 country or all of America’s coal-fired power plants combined. Maritime shipping currently accounts for 3 percent of all global emissions, and could rise to 10 percent by 2050 if the industry continues to rely on carbon-intensive fuels. Maritime shipping also produces 10-to-15 percent of the world’s manufactured sulphur oxide and nitrous oxide emissions.

To mitigate these negative impacts and align with Paris Agreement goals, the maritime shipping industry must transition to zero-carbon fuels by the mid-2020s, use them at scale by 2030, and be fully decarbonized by 2050, at the latest. While sending demand signals for zero-carbon shipping is essential to kick-start this transition, companies working with coZEV also recognize that market forces alone will not bring these solutions to scale.

For this reason, signatories to the 2040 ambition statement are also calling on policymakers around the world to take swift and ambitious action to advance maritime shipping decarbonization—in their domestic, regional, and international leadership capacities. Currently, the International Maritime Organization, shipping’s global regulator, is working under a draft greenhouse gas strategy for shipping that only requires the sector to reduce its absolute emissions by at least 50% by 2050 compared to 2008.

Given the long lifespan of maritime cargo vessels and the need to ramp up renewable energy production to support zero-carbon fuel supply chains around the world, the transition must accelerate rapidly. This announcement is intended to heighten a sense of urgency and increase confidence in the investment opportunity presented by zero-carbon shipping.

To that end, coZEV plans to work with a network of action-oriented and climate-leading cargo owner companies, which includes but is not limited to signatories of this initial 2040 ambition statement. Through coZEV, companies will be able to come together to help establish the first zero-carbon maritime transportation corridors; give policymakers confidence to enact measures that will lower the cost of the zero-carbon transition; and harness the vast collective creativity, market power, bias for action, and investment capacity of some of the most innovative companies and organizations on Earth.

“Whether or not shipping will decarbonize is no longer a debate. The question is rather how quickly we can get our collective act together, and which supply chain actors and nations will be poised to harness the vast business opportunity this transition represents,” concluded Irigoyen.

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