An aggressive target of moving their cargo only on ships using zero-carbon fuel by 2040 has been pledged to be achieved by nine big companies including Amazon, Ikea and Unilever.
The companies have said that this aim will also be instrumental in prompting the highly polluting shipping industry to reduce its carbon footprint faster than otherwise. The amount of climate pollution produced each year by this industry is one billion tonnes which is the same as that produced by a Germany.
Despite these levels of pollution, the industry plans for curbing emissions is still way behind the goals set at the Paris Climate Agreement.
“Maritime shipping, like all sectors of the global economy, needs to decarbonise rapidly if we are to solve the climate crisis, and multinational companies will be key actors in catalysing a clean energy transition in shipping,” said Dan Porterfield of the Aspen Institute, which is coordinating the campaign. “We urge other cargo owners, value chain actors, and governments to join forces with us.”
About 3 per cent of the total global emissions is caused by maritime shipping while it carries about 90 per cent of the total goods in world trade. According to experts the industry is set to contribute as much as 10 per cent to global emissions by 2050 if carbon-intensive fuels continue to be the predominant fuel in the industry.
About 10 to 15 per cent of the respiratory illness causing sulphur oxide and nitrous oxide emissions caused from manufacturing processes is also caused by the global shipping industry.
The Paris Climate Agreement goals mandate that zero-carbon fuels should be used by the shipping industry at scale by 2030, and it should become completely free of carbon emissions by 2050, at the latest.
However, the International Maritime Organization, which regulates shipping globally, is presently developing a strategy that only mandate the industry to reduce carbon emissions by 50 per cent by 2050 compared to 2008 levels.
Given the long life period of maritime cargo vessels as well as the requirement for increasing renewable energy production, making the industry green is considered to be a difficult task. There has also been underinvestment by the industry in the transition, according to the Aspen Institute.
It was “ecstatic” to be a part of the initiative, said Amazon, which has been criticised for its large carbon footprint.
“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,” said Edgar Blanco, director of net-zero carbon at Amazon.
“By signalling 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,” said Michelle Grose, head of logistics at Unilever.
About 15 per cent of the total greenhouse gas emissions of the consumer goods group is accounted for by logistics and Unilever said it was “encouraging our existing carriers to switch to cleaner fuels”.
(Adapted from BBC.com)