Amazon, IKEA, Patagonia, REI, and Target have committed to using zero carbon emission ships by 2040.
The companies and 14 other retail brands have signed the Cargo Owners for Zero Emission Vessels pledge, along with Maersk, the world’s largest container shipping and logistics player.
The effort to decarbonize ocean freight shipping comes as retailers are seeking to move away from relying on air carriers and reducing their carbon footprint.
While ocean freight is 40 to 70 times cleaner than air transportation, it still produces significant pollution levels. Case in point: a traditional container ship traveling between Shanghai and Rotterdam burns nearly 7,000 tons of marine fuel and produces the equivalent of 22,000 tons of greenhouse gas emissions. Such a container ship might take three to four trips in a year.
For a logistics company the size of Maersk, which operates 700 vessels of varying sizes, that equates to 36 million tons of Scope 1 emissions.
“It means that if you want to make a big impact, you’ve got to change the vessels and the fuels they use,” said Lee Kindberg, head of environment and sustainability in North America for Maersk, earlier this year.
As part of the pledge, Maersk plans to start utilizing biofuels, which partnering retail companies can buy to transport their products. Maersk would then issue carbon credits verified by the International Sustainability and Carbon Certification program to validate the customer’s carbon reduction activity. In addition, Maersk has ordered 13 vessels that will operate on bio-methanol.
“This is the decade for climate action,” Kindberg added.