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Majority of shipping companies, global retailers flunk decarbonization test: zero-emission shipping organization

Walmart, Home Depot among top retails scoring failing grades from Ship It Zero coalition
A Maersk vessel entering the Port of Los Angeles from Asia. The world’s second-largest container shipping company was one of the few major maritime cargo carriers awarded a passing grade in Ship It Zero’s decarbonization test | Submitted

How is that voyage to a decarbonized supply chain going for major retailers and top players in the marine transportation sectors?

Not great, according to a U.S.-based environmental coalition.

Ship It Zero’s most recent report card on global ocean carrier lines and international retailers concludes that most of those shipping companies are not taking the actions needed to decarbonize their operations and few major retailers are doing their part to decarbonize the shipping supply chain that brings their goods to warehouses and retail outlets and to the front doors of e-commerce customers.

According to data from the coalition of environmental and public health advocates, scientists, shipping experts and shoppers, only one out of 10 maritime shipping companies has set a 2040 decarbonization target date for their operations and only three out of 18 retailers provided reports on the maritime shipping emissions generated by their supply chains.

Walmart Inc. (NYSE:WMT), Lowe’s (NYSE:LOW) and Home Depot (NYSE:HD) all received “F” letter grades from the coalition, which is focused on getting some of the world’s largest companies to commit to zero-emission shipping by 2030.

CMA CGM, the world’s third-largest container shipping company, managed only a “D” grade.

Data for the report was taken from the companies’ corporate social governance and climate disclosure project reports and decarbonization disclosures.

Criteria used to determine letter grades in the categories were corporate commitment, implementation plan, advocacy and transparency. Grades were allocated in three categories: End Port Pollution, Abandon Dirty Ships and Put Zero At The Helm.

But not all ocean carriers or top retailers failed Ship It Zero's decarbonization test.

The coalition awarded Ikea an overall B+ for its commitment to reducing port pollution, its short-term maritime transportation emissions reduction target of 70 per cent by 2030 and its overall target of achieving zero-emission ocean shipping by 2040.

Meanwhile A.P. Moller-Maersk (CPH:MAERSK-B) received an overall B grade. Ship It Zero noted that the world’s second-largest container shipping company has committed to carbon neutrality by 2040.

At the bottom of the decarbonization class, the coalition’s report pointed out that Walmart does not have a stated pollution reduction commitment, and it does not track its air pollution emissions.

And while Amazon (Nasdaq:AMZN) has short-term emissions reduction commitments that include maritime-specific targets, Ship It Zero noted that the e-commerce colossus does not offer low-emission transportation options through its own shipping company.

“While the globe is burning, retailers and cargo carriers are doing little to address emissions from shipping their goods,” Eric Leveridge, Ship It Zero Lead, Pacific Environment, said in a statement. “Home Depot, Lowe’s, Walmart, Amazon and CMA CGM, in particular, are failing to clean up their shipping pollution while Mediterranean Shipping Company, Ocean Network Express, Hyundai Merchant Marine are barely passing. Addressing the climate crisis is urgent, and we have no time to waste, retailers and cargo carriers must act now.”

But decarbonizing the container ships that carry an estimated 90 per cent of goods worldwide and contribute approximately three per cent of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions globally is easier said than done.

Few low-to-no carbon alternatives to fossil fuels are either viable for deep-water shipping or available in the quantities needed to make them practical options today.

An estimated annual onboard investment of US$28 billion will be required to increase the share of carbon-neutral fuels to five per cent of the maritime shipping industry total by 2030. Estimates for onshore bunkering and the other infrastructure needed to supply ships with alternative fuels range between US$30 billion and US$90 billion.

Who is ready, willing and able to cover those bills remains one of the main decarbonization challenges faced by the entire global supply chain.

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